COVID-19: Trump issues proclamation suspending entry of immigrant visa applicants

22 Apr 20

UNITED STATES

President Donald Trump has issued a proclamation temporarily suspending the entry of immigrant-visa applicants for 60 days.

Key points:

  • The suspension will take effect April 23 at 11:59 pm Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) and will last for 60 days unless extended or modified.
  • The order applies to immigrant visa applicants, and does not apply to temporary visa applicants, such as H-1B, L-1 or other nonimmigrant categories.
  • The order only applies to immigrant visa applicants who are outside the U.S. when the suspension takes effect and do not already have a valid immigrant visa as of the effective date and who do not have another type of travel document (such as advance parole, transportation letter or boarding foil) that permits them to travel to the U.S.
  • The order specifically excludes:
    • U.S. lawful permanent residents.
    • Spouses and unmarried children under 21 of U.S. citizens.
    • Foreign physicians, nurses or other healthcare professionals (and accompanying spouses and unmarried children under 21) applying for immigrant visas to perform research to combat the spread of COVID-19, or to perform work essential to combatting, recovering from or alleviating the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak.
    • Those applying for EB-5 immigrant Investor visas.
    • Individuals whose entry is in the national interest.
    • Individuals who would further U.S. law enforcement objectives.
    • Certain classes of Special Immigrant Visa applicants and their family members.
    • Members of the U.S. Armed Forces and their spouses and children.
  • Within 30 days, the proclamation requires the Secretaries of Labor, Homeland Security and State to review nonimmigrant visa programs and recommend to the president other measures “appropriate to stimulate the United States economy and ensure the prioritization, hiring, and employment of United States workers.”
  • The proclamation will be reviewed no later than 10 days before the current expiration date to determine whether it should be extended or modified.

BAL Analysis: Since U.S. consulates have already suspended routine visa operations abroad due to COVID-19, the order will have a minimal immediate impact, but employers with affected employees should plan for additional delays even after consulates resume routine visa operations. Notably, the executive order does not affect nonimmigrant visa applicants outside the U.S., such as H-1B, L-1 or other temporary workers. It also does not affect USCIS’s processing of immigrant petitions (Form I-140 and Form I-130) and adjustment of status applicants who can apply for their green cards from within the U.S. and do not need to obtain an immigrant visa at a consulate abroad. However, the proclamation directs the federal agencies to review nonimmigrant programs and recommend additional measures within 30 days. BAL is closely following developments and will provide additional analysis in the coming days.

This alert has been provided by the BAL U.S. Practice group. For additional information, please contact berryapplemanleiden@balglobal.com.

Copyright © 2020 Berry Appleman & Leiden LLP. All rights reserved. Reprinting or digital redistribution to the public is permitted only with the express written permission of Berry Appleman & Leiden LLP. For inquiries please contact copyright@balglobal.com.