President Trump today signed a presidential proclamation to temporarily suspend the entry of certain employment-based, family-based and other immigrants for 60 days, with a number of exceptions. The President characterized the measure as a means to protect U.S. workers and conserve medical resources during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The suspension takes effect at 11:59pm EDT on April 23, 2020 and will be in place for 60 days, with the possibility of extensions beyond that timeframe. The order states that those who violate the proclamation will be prioritized for removal from the United States.
Who is Subject to the Suspension
The proclamation suspends the entry of immigrants to the United States for 60 days if they are outside the United States as of 11:59pm EDT on April 23; do not have a valid immigrant visa as of the effective date of the proclamation; and do not have an official travel document other than an immigrant visa that is valid as of the effective date of the proclamation or is issued thereafter and permits the individual to travel to the United States and seek entry or admission (e.g., a transportation letter, boarding foil or advance parole document).
The suspension does not affect the filing or processing of applications for adjustment of status to permanent residence in the United States.
Who is Exempt from the Suspension
The following groups are exempt from the proclamation:
- U.S. lawful permanent residents;
- Foreign nationals seeking to enter on an immigrant visa as a physician, nurse or other healthcare professional, as well as their spouse and unmarried children under 21;
- Applicants for EB-5 immigrant visas;
- Spouses of U.S. citizens;
- Children under 21 of U.S. citizens and prospective adoptees in the IR-4 or IH-4 visa classifications;
- Foreign nationals whose entry would further important U.S. law enforcement objectives;
- Members of the U.S. armed forces and the spouses and children of such individuals;
- Foreign nationals seeking to enter as Special Immigrants in the SI or SQ classification, and the spouse and children of such individuals; and
- Foreign nationals whose entry is in the U.S. national interest.
Impact on Nonimmigrant Programs
The proclamation does not have an immediate impact on the H-1B, L-1 and other nonimmigrant worker programs. However, within 30 days of the effective date of the proclamation, DHS and DOL are ordered to review nonimmigrant programs and recommend measures to “stimulate the U.S. economy and ensure the prioritization, hiring and employment of United States workers.” The results of that report could lead to future restrictions on nonimmigrant employment categories.
What this Means for Employers and Foreign Nationals
The presidential proclamation affects a limited group of prospective immigrants – those who are outside the United States on the effective date of the proclamation and have not been issued an immigrant visa or similar U.S. travel document by a U.S. consulate. It does not affect those already holding a valid immigrant visa or similar travel document, or applicants for adjustment of status to permanent residence, among other exceptions. As a reminder, routine immigrant visa issuance at U.S. consulates has been suspended since mid-March as part of the State Department’s COVID-19 containment measures. In addition, COVID-related entry bans remain in effect for travel from numerous countries.