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On April 22, President Trump issued the executive order mentioned in his tweet regarding suspending entry into the US for immigrant visa holders. In sum, this order only pauses, for 60 days, the entry of people outside the US who are waiting for immigrant visas (not temporary or non-immigrant visas). The order also contains some exemptions.

Who is covered under this order?

This order applies to those who are outside the US on the date of the order (4/22/2020) awaiting an immigrant visa to enter the US. An immigrant visa issued via a consulate abroad (rather than in the US) allows the visa holder admission to the US as a lawful permanent resident (i.e. green card recipient). The order includes both family and employment-based immigrant visa holders with some exceptions (see below).

Because it applies only to immigrant visas, the order does not include those with advance parole documents or non-immigrant (i.e. temporary) visas (e.g. B-1, B-2, F-1, H-1, H-2, O-1, L-1, E-1, E-2 or TN). However, the order does mention that within 30 days, the president will consult with the Departments of Labor and Homeland Security to see if changes in the non-immigrant processes are needed. Even though non-immigrants were excluded from this order, there may be future changes in store for non-immigrants.

Who is exempted from the order?

The order exempts:

  1. Lawful permanent residents (conditional and unconditional)
  2. Certain healthcare professionals and researchers and their spouses and children under 21
  3. Investor green card cases
  4. Spouses of US citizens
  5. Children under 21 and some prospective adoptees of US citizens
  6. Members of the US Armed Forces and their spouses and children
  7. Certain individuals needed for US law enforcement purposes or the national interest
  8. Certain Special Immigrant Visas including spouses and children

What does this order do?

This order suspends entry into the US for 60 days for those falling under the order as described above. The order mentions that within 50 days, the president will evaluate whether to extend or modify the order.

What does this order mean? 

The stated purpose of the order is to temporarily protect US workers due to unemployment created by COVID-19. In reality, however, the temporary pause of visa services at US consulates abroad due to COVID-19 has already effectively limited immigration into the US, so the order does not seem to have much of a practical effect. This order does add stress and delay to some employment and family-based green cards, which can be agonizing for those already waiting in backlogs of several years in many green card categories.

We hope that the administration and Congress considers the facts (and not mere politics) regarding how best to address the serious economic and public health concerns raised due to COVID-19. Immigrants are an essential part of US efforts to not only fight COVID-19 but also boost economic recovery. Many immigrants are essential workers and critical healthcare personnel. They also anchor a healthy economy through consumer demand, job creation via immigrant entrepreneurs and investors, and serving in critical positions in companies large and small that form the backbone of the US economy.

We advise consulting with a qualified immigration attorney about your case and any plans to travel abroad. Those facing long visa delays abroad should also be aware that travel into the US on some non-immigrant visas (e.g. visitor visa or ESTA) while awaiting immigrant processing abroad can be risky depending on the case. US Citizen and Immigration Services is open and processing cases in the order that they are filed. Thus, for individuals considering filing for their family members, or employers considering green card processing, it may be wise to file your case now to secure your place in line.

Speak with an Atlanta Immigration Attorney

If you need immigration assistance, we’re open, flexible, and ready to help. Contact the Georgia immigration attorneys at Antonini & Cohen online or by calling 404-850-9394.

Nisha Karnani
Nisha Karnani

Nisha K. Karnani was born in the United Kingdom to Indian parents and immigrated to the United States as a child. She earned her Bachelor of Arts with Honors in Economics from the University of North Carolina in 1998 and her Juris Doctor from the University of North Carolina School of Law in 2001.

Ms. Karnani has practiced immigration law exclusively since being admitted to the Georgia Bar in 2001. She was an Associate Attorney with Cohen & Associates beginning in 2001, a firm which merged and became the Antonini & Cohen Immigration Law Group in 2013. As a Partner at Antonini and Cohen, Ms. Karnani represents clients in employment and family immigration on issues. She also represents victims of domestic violence and other crimes in various immigration matters.

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