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U.S. Ban on Immigration: How Far Does It Go?

On Monday evening, President Trump announced on Twitter that “In light of the attack from the Invisible Enemy, as well as the need to protect the jobs of our GREAT American Citizens, I will be signing an Executive Order to temporarily suspend immigration into the United States!”

Last night, the text of the “Proclamation Suspending Entry of Immigrants Who Present Risk to the U.S. Labor Market During the Economic Recovery Following the COVID-19 Outbreak” was published. (Text available at https://www.whitehouse.gov/presidential-actions/proclamation-suspending-entry-immigrants-present-risk-u-s-labor-market-economic-recovery-following-covid-19-outbreak/).

This proclamation is valid for a period of 60 days from April 23, 2020, with the potential for extension beyond that period. It suspends the issuance of most immigrant visas at consular posts overseas until the order expires (currently on June 22, 2020). (It does not affect people who already have green cards, those who are applying for green cards through the domestic adjustment of status process, or those who have already been issued immigrant visas, but not yet entered the United States.)

The exceptions to the proclamation (i.e., those who can still obtain immigrant visas within the next 60 days) include:

  • Spouses and children under the age of 21 of U.S. citizens, as well as certain children in the adoption process
  • Participants in the EB-5 investor visa program
  • Certain medical professionals and their immediate family members
  • U.S. Armed Forces members and their immediate family members
  • Individuals whose immigration is in the national interest or for law enforcement purposes
  • Certain Special Immigrants

The largest categories of people who will be affected by this are family members of lawful permanent residents, extended family members of U.S. citizens (e.g., parents, siblings, and adult children), diversity visa applicants, and of course, anyone who has been sponsored for the green card by an employer. Self-sponsoring people with extraordinary ability will also be affected.

Note that the proclamation also indicates that the President intends to review nonimmigrant programs within the next 30 days, so there could be further proclamations forthcoming that limit the issuance of temporary visas. However, it has been widely reported that the U.S. business community is pressuring the White House against a ban on nonimmigrant work visas.

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