Everything You Need to Know about President Trump’s Temporary Halt on Immigration in Response to COVID-19

May 18, 2020 § Leave a comment

Summary

On April 20, 2020, President Trump declared he would be suspending immigration into the United States to prioritize American workers in the current, weak economic climate brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. On April 22, 2020, President Trump officially issued a limited presidential proclamation temporarily suspending entry of immigrants into the U.S. for 60 days, effective April 23, 2020. The proclamation suspends the issuance of immigrant visas (‘green cards’) to individuals outside the U.S. and to individuals who do not already have a green card or other official travel document authorizing their entry. There are several exemptions to this proclamation (more detail below). The 60-day suspension will terminate on June 30, 2020; however, within 50 days, the U.S. Government will decide whether to extend or shorten the suspension.

Who is affected by the suspension?

The 60-day suspension applies to those who are outside the U.S., do not have a valid immigrant visa, or do not have an official travel document other than a visa. This means that individuals with immigrant visas that expired prior to the April 22 ban will also be denied entry into the U.S.

Who is exempt from the suspension?

Several people will still be authorized entry into the U.S. and will not be affected by the temporary immigration suspension. The discretionary authority to determine whether an immigrant is eligible for an exemption has been delegated to consular officers, the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, and the Secretary of the Department of State. Please note that although the spouse and children of U.S. Citizens are exempt, parents of U.S. Citizens are not exempt. 

The following peoples are exempt from the proclamation:

  • Lawful permanent residents (LPR);
  • Healthcare professionals seeking to perform medical research or other research intended to combat the spread of COVID-19 (the spouse and children of healthcare professionals are exempt as well);
  • EB-5 immigrant investors;
  • Children (under the age of 21) of a U.S. Citizen, the spouse of a U.S. Citizen, or a prospective adoptee of a U.S. Citizen (IR-4 or IH-4);
  • Those who would further important U.S. law enforcement objectives;
  • Members of the U.S. Armed forces (as well as their spouse and children);
  • Special Immigrant Visas as an Afghan or Iraqi translator/interpreter or U.S. Government Employee (SI or SQ classification);
  • Individuals whose entry would be in the national interest (as determined by consular officers, the Department of Homeland Security, or the Department of State);
  • Persons in possession of an advance parole document, a transportation letter, or a boarding foil that was valid on the effective date, April 23, 2020, or is issued on any date thereafter

Appeal Process

Currently, there is no appeal mechanism for individuals who have been denied access into the U.S. and feel as though they meet one or more of the aforementioned exemptions.

Courses of Action Not Affected by the Proclamation

The following courses of action may still take place during the suspension:

  • The issuing of nonimmigrant visas (NIVs), including those for work, leisure, or travel, will continue to take place. However, the U.S. government will reconsider NIV measures after 30 days of the proclamation
  • Individuals can still apply for asylum or refugee status consistent with U.S. law and Conventions
  • The proclamation should not preclude filing and adjudication of an I-130, Petition for Alien Relative or I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Workers
  • The proclamation imposes no limitation on qualified resident aliens seeking U.S. citizenship to file Form N-400, Applications for Naturalization. However, USCIS Field Offices are currently closed and are not conducting naturalization interviews until at least June 4, 2020

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