Due to COVID-19 and its effects on the economy, on April 22, 2020, President Donald Trump issued a new Presidential Proclamation on U.S. immigration to suspend the entry of certain immigrants to the United States. This was previously indicated by a Tweet from the President on April 20, 2020.
The “Proclamation Suspending Entry of Immigrants Who Present Risk to the U.S. Labor Market During the Economic Recovery Following the COVID-19 Outbreak” most importantly suspends the entry into the U.S. of those with an immigrant visa for an initial 60-day period unless otherwise exempted by this order.
There are broad classifications of visa holders and applicants not affected. It is important to note that non-immigrant visa categories, such as E-2 and E-3 visas, are not affected by this proclamation. Furthermore, the proclamation states that it does not limit the ability of individuals to apply for asylum, refugee status, withholding of removal, or protection under the Convention Against Torture.
The proclamation indicates that it may be modified including for a longer period beyond the initial 60 days. The Proclamation takes effect at 11:59 p.m. eastern daylight time on April 23, 2020.
This Proclamation comes on the heels of on March 20, 2020 suspension of routine visa services at all U.S. consulates and embassies, and travel restrictions of foreign nationals traveling from certain countries due to COVID-19.
It is important to note the Proclamation does NOT apply to the following foreign nationals based on the discretion of a Consular Officer:
- Current lawful permanent residents (green card holders)
- Current immigrants that have been issued a valid immigrant visa by the effective date AND have a valid official travel document
- Foreign national spouses or minor child (unmarried under the agent of 21) of U.S. citizens (immediate relative spouse and children)
- Prospective adoptee children (IR-4 or IH-4 visa classifications)
- Physician, nurse, or other healthcare professionals to “perform medical research or other research intended to combat the spread of COVID-19; or to perform work essential to combating, recovering from, or otherwise alleviating the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak” and accompanying, dependent spouse or minor children.
- EB-5 Immigrant Investors
- Certain immigrant categories in the U.S. national interests, immigrant furthering U.S. law enforcement objectives (likely T and U visas), and certain special immigrants (SI or SQ classification), and U.S. Armed Forces members and accompanying, dependent spouse or minor children
The proclamation does apply to the following foreign nationals unless meeting one of the exceptions listed above:
- Parents of U.S. citizens
- Other family-based immigrants that are not included in the exceptions
- Immigrant Workers including EB-1, EB-2, and EB-3 workers not included in the exceptions
- Diversity Visa lottery immigrants
- Other special immigrants not included in the above exceptions (example – religious workers)
As written, any individual already in the United States that has filed their adjustment of status application, even if under one of the above categories, should likely be able to continue with their application. The proclamation only bans the processing of immigrant visas at U.S. consulates and embassies abroad.
Importantly, while non-immigrant visa applications are not currently subject to the Proclamation, the Administration indicated that non-immigrants may later be affected. The Proclamation indicated that within 30 days that the government will review non-immigrant visas and recommend “other measures appropriate to stimulate the United States economy and ensure the prioritization, hiring, and employment of United States workers.” Based on this Proclamation there is the potential for the President to possibly to expand possible limitations on non-immigrant visa categories.
We will continue to provide additional updates on this proclamation and other COVID-19 related immigration matters.
We are happy to discuss your current situation and understand the stress and considerations given at the moment. Please reach out to our team to discuss your situation and develop the best strategy possible.