On April 22, 2020, President Trump signed an Executive Order to stop the entry of Immigrants into the United States who present risk to the U.S. labor market during the COVID-19 outbreak. This Executive Order is the latest and probably most extreme example of his agenda to restrict legal immigration to this country. However, the Executive Order does not apply to nonimmigrants, and it does not change the majority of the policies that are already being practiced by the U.S. Consular Offices and Embassies due to COVID-19.
A. Suspended Immigration
The Executive Order suspends entry into the United States of immigrants who:
- Are outside the United States on the effective date of the proclamation;
- Do not have an immigrant visa that is valid on the effective date of the proclamation; and
- Do not have an official travel document other than a visa that is valid on the effective date of the proclamation or issued on any date thereafter that permits him or her to travel to the United States and seek entry or admission.
The Executive Order states that the following immigrants are exempted from this rule:
- Lawful Permanent Residents of the United States;
- Physicians, Nurses, or other healthcare professionals performing research or work to combat the spread of COVID-19, and the children under 21 years old of such individuals;
- An individual applying for EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program;
- Spouses of United States Citizens;
- Children under the age of 21 years old of United States Citizens;
- Individuals whose entry would further assist United States law enforcement objectives;
- Spouses and children of members of the United States Armed Forces;
- Certain immigrants entering with Special Immigrant Visas; and
- Any individual whose entry would be in the national interest.
The Executive Order shall expire 60 days from its effective date, but may be continued as necessary.
D. Practical Issues
- The Executive Order has no impact on anyone that is applying for immigration benefits within the United States;
- It does not impact anyone outside of the U.S. that falls under one of the above listed exceptions;
- It places almost no additional restrictions on individuals interviewing at U.S. Consular Offices, as the majority of those offices have been closed since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak; and
- Even though this Executive Order does not apply to nonimmigrants, Section 6 states that within 30 days of issuance of the EO, the Secretary of Labor and Secretary of DHS shall consult with the Secretary of State, and review nonimmigrant programs, and shall then recommend to the president other measures that are appropriate to stimulate the US economy and ensure the prioritization, hiring and employment of US workers.
That provision could create some additional proof issues for cases filed after the effective date of the regulations, but to accomplish those kinds of changes, each agency should issue appropriate regulations, and that can take a good while (months if it is done correctly – of course, since the election is this November, Trump likely will want it fast-tracked).
For those reasons, it is important to submit any nonimmigrant filings promptly.
For clients who are in the U.S. and who can file with USCIS, it is advisable to do so promptly. This Executive Order does not impact immigration applications or petitions being filed with USCIS and DOL. Additionally, the president does not have legal authority to suspend USCIS and DOL case processing, but it would not be uncharacteristic for this president at least to try. Getting cases into the system is always a good strategy, especially as long as this administration remains in power.
If you have a case with Chapman Law Firm (CLF) and want to discuss how this EO may impact your case, please contact our office to arrange for a consultation (currently being conducted by telephone or Skype). If you do not have a case with CLF, please call our office at (336-334-0034) and we will be happy to set up a consultation with you.
Adam K. Roberts
Chapman Law Firm
April 24, 2020