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Temporary suspension of US immigration: what you need to know

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Publication April 24, 2020 - 5 PM ET

Below is a summary of President Trump’s executive order signed on April 22 to temporarily suspend immigration to the US to protect the jobs of US citizens in light of COVID-19.

(Full text of proclamation.)

Who is affected by proclamation?

The proclamation came into effect on April 23 at 11:59 p.m. (ET) and will be in force for 60 days (but may be extended as necessary). It suspends the entry of any individual seeking to enter the US as an immigrant who: 

  • Is outside the United States on the effective date of the proclamation; 
  • Does not have a valid immigrant visa on the effective date (i.e., green card has not been approved yet); and
  • Does not have a valid official travel document (such as a transportation letter, boarding foil, or advance parole document) on the effective date, or issued on any date thereafter that permits travel to the United States to seek entry or admission. 

In other words, the proclamation will not affect those who are in the US, nor will it affect pending green card applications at USCIS. If an individual is outside the US on the effective day and is waiting for an immigrant visa to be issued, he or she will have to wait at least 60 days longer, unless he or she qualifies for one of the exemptions listed below.  

Exemptions

The following categories are exempted from the proclamation and will not have their entry into the US as new immigrants suspended for 60 days: 

1. Lawful permanent residents (i.e., green card holders) 

2. Individuals and their spouses and children seeking to enter the US on an immigrant visa as a physician, nurse, or other healthcare professional to perform work essential to combatting, recovering from, or otherwise alleviating the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak (as determined by the secretaries of state and Department of Homeland Security (DHS), or their respective designees) 

3. Individuals applying for a visa to enter the US pursuant to the EB-5 immigrant investor visa program 

4. Spouses of US citizens 

5. Children of US citizens under the age of 21 and prospective adoptees seeking to enter on an IR-4 or IH-4 visa 

6. Individuals who would further important US law enforcement objectives (as determined by the secretaries of DHS and state based on the recommendation of the Attorney General (AG), or their respective designees) 

7. Members of the US Armed Forces and their spouses and children 

8. Individuals and their spouses or children eligible for special immigrant visas as an Afghan or Iraqi translator/interpreter or US government employee (SI or SQ classification) 

9. Individuals whose entry would be in the national interest (as determined by the secretaries of state and DHS, or their respective designees). 

Non-immigrant visa holders are not included in the proclamation, but…

Non-immigrant visa holders are not included by the proclamation, so anyone with a US work visa or study visa,  whether inside or outside the US when the proclamation goes into effect, will not be affected.

That said, the proclamation requires that within 30 days of the effective date, the secretaries of labor and DHS, in consultation with the secretary of state, review non-immigrant programs and recommend to President Trump other appropriate measures to stimulate the US economy and ensure “the prioritization, hiring and employment” of US workers. 

In other words, it is possible that within 30 days, another proclamation will be issued that will suspend certain non-immigrant visa programs, such as H-1B, L-1, and E visas.  

Expiration 

The proclamation expires on June 22, 2020, at 11:59 p.m., 60 days from its effective date, and may be continued as necessary. Within 50 days from the effective date, the secretary of DHS shall, in consultation with the secretaries of state and labor, recommend whether President Trump should continue or modify the proclamation. 



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