On April 22, 2020, Trump issued an Executive Order titled “Proclamation Suspending Entry of Immigrants Who Present Risk to the U.S. Labor Market During the Economic Recovery Following the COVID-19 Outbreak.”
Under the Executive order, U.S. consulates around the world will be suspended from issuing and approving new immigrant visas (green cards) for sixty (60) days – ending on June 21, 2020. However, the President reserved the right to modify or to extend the Executive Order. Those who have applied for immigrant visas which have not yet been approved as of April 22, 2020 are subject to the Immigration Ban. There are also several exceptions to this ban, including spouses and children of U.S. citizens.
It should be noted that just about all U.S. consulates around that world have been temporarily closed since the COVID-19 outbreak in March 2020. As such, both immigrant and non-immigrant visas have not been processed by consulates for the past month anyway.
USCIS Applications Will Proceed as Usual
One important note to the Executive Order is that applications submitted to USCIS are not affected. This means that anybody who has filed any immigrant applications (marriage green cards, employment green cards) or non-immigrant applications (H-1B, TN, E-2, L-1, etc.) may continue to do so. Also, any pending applications with USCIS will continue to be adjudicated.
Exceptions to the Immigration Ban
There are several exceptions to the ban. An excerpt of the official Executive Order outlining exempt categories is below:
Scope of Suspension and Limitation on Entry.
- (a) The suspension and limitation on entry pursuant to section 1 of this proclamation shall apply only to aliens who:
- (i) are outside the United States on the effective date of this proclamation;
- (ii) do not have an immigrant visa that is valid on the effective date of this proclamation; and
- (iii) do not have an official travel document other than a visa (such as a transportation letter, an appropriate boarding foil, or an advance parole document) that is valid on the effective date of this proclamation or issued on any date thereafter that permits him or her to travel to the United States and seek entry or admission.
- (b) The suspension and limitation on entry pursuant to section 1 of this proclamation shall not apply to:
- (i) any lawful permanent resident of the United States;
- (ii) any alien seeking to enter the United States on an immigrant visa as a physician, nurse, or other healthcare professional; to perform medical research or other research intended to combat the spread of COVID-19; or to perform work essential to combating, recovering from, or otherwise alleviating the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak, as determined by the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Homeland Security, or their respective designees; and any spouse and unmarried children under 21 years old of any such alien who are accompanying or following to join the alien;
- (iii) any alien applying for a visa to enter the United States pursuant to the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program;
- (iv) any alien who is the spouse of a United States citizen;
- (v) any alien who is under 21 years old and is the child of a United States citizen, or who is a prospective adoptee seeking to enter the United States pursuant to the IR-4 or IH-4 visa classifications;
- (vi) any alien whose entry would further important United States law enforcement objectives, as determined by the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Homeland Security, or their respective designees, based on a recommendation of the Attorney General or his designee;
- (vii) any member of the United States Armed Forces and any spouse and children of a member of the United States Armed Forces;
- (viii) any alien seeking to enter the United States pursuant to a Special Immigrant Visa in the SI or SQ classification, subject to such conditions as the Secretary of State may impose, and any spouse and children of any such individual; or
- (ix) any alien whose entry would be in the national interest, as determined by the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Homeland Security, or their respective designees.