On April 22, 2020, President Trump issued a proclamation suspending the entry of certain immigrants for 60 days. The proclamation applies only to a limited group of new immigrants who are currently outside the United States and does not impact foreign nationals who are in the U.S. or who are seeking to enter on temporary visas. However, the proclamation does leave the door open for future restrictions, which may impact those in temporary work visa status such as H-1B, TN and L-1.
Specifically, the proclamation suspends the entry of any individual seeking to enter the U.S. as an immigrant who:
- is outside the United States on the effective date of the proclamation;
- does not have a valid immigrant visa on the effective date; and
- does not have a valid official travel document (such as a transportation letter, boarding foil or advance parole document) on the effective date, or issued on any date thereafter that permits travel to the United States to seek entry or admission.
The following categories are exempted from the proclamation:
- Lawful permanent residents (LPR).
- Individuals and their spouses or children seeking to enter the U.S. on an immigrant visa as a physician, nurse or other healthcare professional to perform work essential to combatting, recovering from or otherwise alleviating the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak.
- Individuals applying for a visa to enter the U.S. pursuant to the EB-5 immigrant investor visa program.
- Spouses of U.S. citizens.
- Children of U.S. citizens under the age of 21 and prospective adoptees seeking to enter on an IR-4 or IH-4 visa.
- Foreign nationals whose entry furthers U.S. law enforcement objectives.
- Asylum seekers and certain Special Immigrant entrants such as Iraqi and Afghani nationals who have assisted the U.S. military.
- Any member of the United States Armed Forces and any spouse and children of a member of the United States Armed Forces.
- Foreign nationals whose entry would be in the national interest.
The proclamation is much narrower in scope than was suggested by President Trump’s April 20 tweet referencing an Executive Order to “temporarily suspend immigration into the United States” to protect the U.S. labor market in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Given that the U.S. Department of State has already suspended routine immigrant and nonimmigrant visa services at all U.S. Embassies and Consulates, the immediate impact of this Proclamation is probably insignificant.
The Proclamation directs the Secretary of Labor and the Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Secretary of State, to review nonimmigrant visa programs and recommend other measures appropriate to stimulate the United States economy and ensure the prioritization, hiring and employment of United States workers. As such, even though the Proclamation does not have an immediate impact on temporary work visa programs, such as H-1B, TN and L-1, future restrictions on these programs may be on the horizon.
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