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President Trump Issues Proclamation Temporarily Suspending Issuance of Immigrant Visas at U.S. Consulates

23 Apr

On Wednesday, April 22, Present Trump issued a proclamation temporarily suspending entry into the United States of intending immigrants as lawful permanent residents (“green card” applicants) for a temporary period of 60 days.  

Because the order does not apply to people already in the United States, those in the United States may continue their applications for permanent residency.  Further, because the order does not apply to nonimmigrants, such as H, L, TN, E, O, P, F, and B nonimmigrants, those individuals may remain in the United States for the duration of their lawful admission and may continue seeking any extension or change of nonimmigrant status for which they are otherwise eligible.  New applicants may apply for new nonimmigrant visas at U.S. consulates once regular visa processing resumes. 

Effective Date and Scope of Application 

The proclamation goes into effect at 11:59 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time on Thursday, April 23, and it only applies to applicants for permanent residency who are outside the United States on the effective date of the proclamation.  The order imposes a 60-day suspension on the entry of such applicants as immigrants.  After the order has been in effect for 50 days, the Secretaries of State and Homeland Security must recommend whether to continue the order beyond the 60-day period. 

Exclusions and Exceptions 

Notably, the order applies only to those who are outside the United States and do not already have a valid immigrant visa.  Further, the order provides for the following exceptions: 

  1. Lawful permanent residents of the United States. 
  2. Foreign nationals seeking to enter the United States on an immigrant visa as a physician, nurse, or other healthcare professional; to perform medical research; to perform other work essential to combatting COVID-19; and any spouse and unmarried child under age 21 accompanying them. 
  3. Applicants under the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program. 
  4. Spouses of U.S. citizens. 
  5. Children who are under age 21 and are children of a U.S. citizen or are prospective adoptees. 
  6. Those whose entry would further U.S. law enforcement objectives, as determined by the Secretaries of State and Homeland Security. 
  7. Members of the U.S. armed forces, and their spouses and children. 
  8. Foreign nationals seeking entry pursuant to a Special Immigrant Visa, and their spouse and children. 
  9. Those whose entry would be in the U.S. national interest, as determined by the Secretaries of State and Homeland Security. 

Future Proclamation of Broader Impact Possible 

During his press briefing on Tuesday, April 21, President Trump acknowledged the possibility of a second order that might follow this initial proclamation and might be broader in scope.  Further, the proclamation issued Wednesday contains a provision that instructs the Secretaries of Labor, Homeland Security and State within the next 30 days to review nonimmigrant visa programs and to recommend whether restrictions should be placed on those programs for the purpose of stimulating the U.S. economy and prioritizing the employment of U.S. workers.  

Action Points 

Because a future proclamation could impact nonimmigrant visa programs, employers of temporary workers should consider proceeding with all necessary petitions and applications for critical members of their workforce at the earliest possible time.  Most extension petitions and applications can be filed up to six months prior to the expiration status, and most new petitions can be filed up to six months prior to the proposed start date of employment or the need for a change of employer or change of nonimmigrant status.  Proceeding as early as possible for both new petitions and extensions is also recommended due to increasing USCIS adjudication times and the unavailability of the “premium processing” program to obtain an earlier decision from USCIS. 

Contact your Foster immigration attorney to initiate a new or extended petition filing or application with the goal of filing eligible petitions and applications in advance of any new or expanded proclamation limiting immigration.  Your Foster immigration attorney can provide you with guidance regarding the earliest filing date, which is usually six months in advance, and can work with you to target filing within the next 30 days for all eligible cases.    

As always, Foster will continue to monitor changes in immigration law and procedure, as well as the ongoing impacts of the President’s executive order, and will make additional updates available via our firm’s website at www.fosterglobal.com