President Trump’s Proclamation Suspending Some Immigrant Visas
President Trump signed a much-feared Proclamation on April 22, 2020, suspending certain immigrant visas, effective from April 23, 2020 for 60 days or until June 22, 2020. The measure contains broad exceptions and is more limited than the sweeping closure he tweeted.
Section 2(a) spelled out the scope of suspension and limitation on entry applies to aliens who:
- are outside the US;
- do not have an immigrant visa that is valid;
- do not have an official travel document other than a visa on the effective date of this proclamation.
Section 2(b) then carved out exceptions including (not listing all the exceptions enumerated in the proclamation):
- any lawful permanent resident of the US;
- any alien seeking to enter the U.S. 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-10; or to perform work essential to combating, recovering from, or otherwise alleviating the effect of the COVID-19 outbreak, and their spouses, unmarried children under 21 accompanying or following to join the alien;
- any alien applying for a visa to enter the US pursuant to the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program:
- any alien who is the spouse of a US Citizen;
- any alien who is under 21 and is the child of a USC or who is a prospective adoptee;
- any alien whose entry would further important US law enforcement objectives;
- any member of the US Armed Forces and any spouse and children;
It does not affect the petitions and applications which get filed at US Citizenship and Immigration (‘USCIS”) and non-immigrant visa applications filed at US consular posts.
To obtain legal permanent residency (commonly known as a green card), family-based or employment-based petitions are filed to USCIS (I-130, I-140, I-360, I-526). When the petitions are approved, and if the visa numbers are available, foreign nationals living abroad may apply for immigrant visas at consular posts. The ones who are already in the US may adjust status (I-485). For certain visa categories where the visa numbers are available, underlying petitions and I-485 adjustment of status applications are filed concurrently.
Even though this proclamation seems limited in scope, what is troubling is that it mentions the possibility of extending this suspension beyond the 60 days and taking additional measures for non-immigrant visas.
Section 4 states that the suspension “may be continued as necessary”. Section 6 states: “Within 30 days of the effective date of this proclamation, the Secretary of Labor and the Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Secretary of State, shall review “nonimmigrant programs” and shall recommend to me other measures appropriate to stimulate the US economy and ensure the prioritization, hiring, and employment of US workers.”
If you want to read the full proclamation: https://www.whitehouse.gov/presidential-actions/proclamation-suspending-entry-immigrants-present-risk-u-s-labor-market-economic-recovery-following-covid-19-outbreak/