Immigration Proclamation Sets Limited Curbs

President Suspends Temporary Entry of Certain Immigrants Due to COVID-19 Economic Fallout

Written by David S. Rugendorf

On Wednesday evening, April 22, 2020, President Trump issued his highly anticipated immigration proclamation, temporarily suspending some types of immigration to the United States due to COVID-19 and its resultant damage to the domestic labor market. While the language of the order suggested that future actions may be necessary, the current order is very limited in its scope and application. Very few individuals are now prevented from entering the United States who had not previously been barred from entry. A summary of the order is as follows:

  • Beginning on April 23, 2020 at 11:59 p.m. and for a period of 60 days, some foreign nationals physically present outside the United States may not enter the United States as immigrants (permanent residents) if they do not already possess an immigrant visa or other valid travel document, such as an advance parole. In essence, that is already the law. The proclamation may affect those who acquire immigrant visas within the next two months, but with all embassies and consulates closed to visa issuance for the foreseeable future, this will limit the number of individuals who may be affected. The suspension will be reviewed 50 days before its expiration, and may be extended for additional 60 day periods, at the president’s discretion.
  • The proclamation only applies to foreign nationals who are physically present outside the United States as of April 23, 2020. Foreign nationals physically present inside the United States are exempt. It also does not apply to the following classes of foreign nationals:
    • existing permanent residents (green card holders),
    • healthcare professionals engaged in research and other activities in the fight against COVID-19 and their immediate families,
    • EB-5 immigrant investors
    • spouses and children of U.S. citizens,
    • members of the military and their immediate families,
    • foreign nationals assisting law enforcement,
    • applicants for asylum and related forms of relief,
    • and other foreign nationals whose entry is deemed to be in the national interest.
  • Very importantly, the proclamation has no impact whatsoever on nonimmigrant visa holders. Individuals on H-1B, TN, O-1, L-1, E-2 and all other nonimmigrant visas are not affected at all. They may still enter the United States if otherwise able to do so.
  • The proclamation does not prohibit employers or individuals from filing I-140 permanent resident (green card) petitions.
  • The proclamation does not limit the filing of adjustment of status applications by foreign nationals currently in the United States, or government approval of these applications.
  • As mentioned above, the worldwide closure of all US Embassies and Consulates for visa processing has been in place for about one month now and still remains, for both immigrants (permanent residents/green cards) and nonimmigrants (temporary visas). The order does not address this issue.
  • The ban on travel from China, Iran, the Schengen nations of Europe, the United Kingdom and Ireland still remains in effect. The proclamation does not address this issue.
  • The restrictions on entry across the Mexican and Canadian land borders are still in effect.

Perhaps the most striking thing in the proclamation is the order of a review, within 30 days, of all nonimmigrant visa categories. The review, to be conducted by the Departments of Homeland Security, Department of Labor and Department of State, the three federal departments who manage the immigration function, will consider “measures appropriate to stimulate the United States economy and ensure the prioritization, hiring and employment of United States workers.” Of course, the White House did not need an official proclamation initiate such a review, as this has always been within the purview of these departments. Also, the administration’s policy of “Buy American Hire American” has long been in effect.

Please contact our Immigration Department if you have any questions.

 

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