On Wednesday, April 22, 2020, President Trump signed a presidential proclamation limiting immigration that suspends the entry into the United States of certain immigrants. The order applies to people who are outside the United States as of April 23, 2020, at 11:59 pm, who do not have an immigrant visa that is valid on April 23, 2020, and who do not have travel document other than a visa that is valid on April 23, 2020, or one that is issued on any date thereafter allowing him or her to travel to the United States and seek entry or admission.
Who Does the Proclamation Apply To?
I have been getting questions today on who this suspension applies to. Many of our cases involve family-based immigration petitions that seeking benefits for family members who currently are outside the United States. Almost all of these cases will be impacted by the suspension.
Hypo 1. Parents of US Citizens ARE Impacted by the Presidential Proclamation
An example of the type of case that would be impacted by this suspension might involve the following type of situation:
Maria, a United States citizen member United States Armed Forces, was born in Colombia and was a lawful permanent resident before joining the US Army. She later naturalized to become a US citizen. Her mother and father still live in Colombia where they are now reaching retirement age. They were business people and have enough money to provide for themselves if they moved the United States. Maria filed a petition for her parents to be issued a visa in April 2019. That petition was approved in November 2019. The case was transferred to the US State Department and in late December, Maria was able to begin submitting additional paperwork for the State Department to begin processing her parents’ respective visa applications. Finally, Maria was able to submit all of her paperwork at the end of January. The paperwork was then sent to the consulate in Germany to process the visa application and schedule an interview.
While waiting for the US Consulate to contact Maria’s parents about their interviews, the world stopped due to COVID-19. Routine visa services at all US embassies and consular posts around the world have been suspended as of March 20, 2020. Only emergency and urgent services are permitted at these consulates. Maria, is now waiting for the Consulates to open visa processing services so her parents can go to their interviews and come to the United States. As long as the April 22, 2020, Presidential Proclamation remains in effect, Maria’s parents will be prevented from getting a visa to enter the United States. They have to wait for the proclamation to expire before obtaining a visa.
Who Does the Proclamation NOT Apply To?
The Presidential Proclamation includes the following categories of exempt people applying for entry into the United States:
- Immigrants who already hold a Lawful Permanent Resident Status (AKA green card holders);
- Persons seeking entry on an immigrant visa as a physician, nurse, or other healthcare professional entering to perform medical research or other research intended to combat the spread of COVID-19 or other work essential to combating, recovering from, or alleviating the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak. The people described here can bring their spouses, and unmarried children under 21;
- Anyone applying for a visa to enter pursuant to the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program;
- Spouses and children under the age of 21 of US citizens, including prospective adoptees on an IR- or IH- visa;
- Individuals who the Department of Homeland Security or Department of State determine would further law enforcement objectives;
- Members of the US Armed Forces and their spouses and children;
- Afghan and Iraqi nationals who were translators/interpreters or employed by the US government and their spouses or children who are seeking under a Special Immigrant Visa;
- Individuals whose entry the Department of Homeland Security or Department of State determine would be in the national interest.
Hypo 2. US Citizen Marriage-based Immigrant Visa – Not Impacted by Proclamation
Joe, a United States citizen member United States Armed Forces was stationed overseas in Germany for several months. He met Anna, a German citizen and they fell in love. Before returning home, Joe married Anna. Joe returned home in March 2019. He immediately filed a petition with the United States government so that Anna could receive an immigrant visa allowing her to enter the US as an immigrant. That petition was approved in November 2019. The case was transferred to the US State Department and in late December, Joe was able to begin submitting additional paperwork for the State Department to begin processing Anna’s immigrant visa application. Finally, Joe was able to submit all his paperwork at the end of January. The paperwork was then sent to the consulate in Germany to process the visa application and schedule an interview.
While waiting for the US Consulate to contact Anna about her interview, the world stopped due to COVID-19. Routine visa services at all US embassies and consular posts around the world have been suspended as of March 20, 2020. Only emergency and urgent services are permitted at these consulates. Joe, is now waiting for the Consulates to open visa processing services so his wife, Anna, can go to her interview and come to the United States. Anna’s case is not impacted by the Presidential Proclamation that President Trump signed on April 22, 2020.
It is important to note that people who are applying for nonimmigrant visas or asylum are NOT prohibited from entering the US by the proclamation. This means that H-1B visas, B visas, and other nonimmigrant visas will not be prohibited. Temporary guest workers are therefore, not prohibited to enter the United States under the Presidential Proclamation.
Duration of Proclamation
The pause in issuing visas to intending immigrants will last for 60 days beginning at 11:59 p.m. on April 23, 2020. This time period can be extended or amended.
If you or your family member has a case pending, your case could be impacted by the Presidential Proclamation. If you are seeking to file on behalf of your family member, it is best to consult an experienced immigration attorney before filing. Call us at 912.401.8880 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and you will speak directly with our immigration attorneys to discuss your case.