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President Trump Suspends Entry of Immigrants to the United States

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President Trump Suspends Entry of Immigrants to the United States

On April 20, 2020, around 10:30PM Eastern Time, President Trump tweeted that he would sign an Executive Order to suspend immigration into the United States. On Wednesday, April 22, 2020, at around 8:00PM Eastern Time,  the White House issued its “Proclamation Suspending Entry of Immigrants Who Present Risk to the U.S. Labor Market During the Economic Recovery Following the COVID-19 Outbreak.” This article shall break down the proclamation as best we can.

What We Know

Entry of non-citizens as “immigrants” is suspended with some limited exception. First, it is important to know what an “immigrant” is. Under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), “immigrants” are typically non-citizens who enter the United States on an “Immigrant Visa.”

The most common ways of obtaining an Immigrant Visa are through a family member or through an employer. Immigrants obtain lawful permanent residency and a green card once they enter the United States. “Nonimmigrants” include other types of visas and are generally temporary. Examples include students, agricultural workers, and tourists.

What we know thus far is that the proclamation has exceptions to the types of Immigrants who are not impacted by the suspension.

First, the proclamation only covers non-citizens outside the United States at the time it was released. We can assume, therefore, that non-citizens inside the United States may still apply for immigration benefits with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) because they are not impacted by the proclamation. For example, a non-citizen in the United States as of April 23, 2020 may still apply for permanent residency or citizenship with USCIS.

Second, non-citizens outside the United States who possessed an Immigrant Visa and valid passport on April 23, 2020 should not be impacted.

Third, the proclamation does not apply to lawful permanent residents of the United States, non-citizens seeking entry to the United States to help contribute to the fight against the spread of COVID-19 (including some of their family members), Immigrant Investors, and the spouses of U.S. citizens, among a few other exceptions. The proclamation shall last 60 days, but may be extended beyond 60 days.

We also know the following with respect to the various immigration agencies:

  • U.S. Department of State (DOS): Routine visa services at all U.S. embassies and consulates worldwide around were suspended on March 20, 2020, although they will provide urgent and emergency visa services as resources allow. The DOS intends to continue to process visa applications for farm workers and medical professionals assisting with COVID-19.

  • U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS): USCIS temporarily ended in-person services through at least May 3, 2020, including residency and citizenship interviews, biometrics processing, and in-person inquiries at local offices. USCIS staff will continue to perform “mission work” duties that do not involve contact with the public, meaning that applications may still be filed and will still be worked on during any stay-at-home orders. Furthermore, USCIS will provide emergency services for limited in-person situations.

  • U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP):  The U.S.’s northern border with Canada and the southern border with Mexico are both closed for non-essential travel until at least May 20, 2020. With limited exception, the entry of individuals who were in China, Iran, Europe’s Schengen Area, the United Kingdom, and Ireland, during the 14-day period before the day they seek entry into the United States has also been suspended.

Some Points

Ibrahim Law Office has received an influx of calls, texts, and emails asking about the status of immigration after the April 20, 2020 Tweet from President Trump.

Ibrahim Law Office does not believe there will be a complete halt on all immigration into the United States, even after the April 22, 2020 proclamation. Not withstanding other Executive Orders however, it does appear like many would-be immigrants will be banned from entering the United States as a result of this proclamation, including the sons, daughters, and parents of Americans who had potentially planned on uniting with their family in the United States. Moreover, the proclamation may not cover all types of U.S. residents (permanent residents), therefore excluding certain permanent residents. Finally, the proclamation states that the President will review whether or not to expand the ban to other types of visa categories 30 days later.

Final Remarks

We ask every non-citizen to remain calm in these difficult times. We are closely monitoring the situation and will reach out to clients who may be impacted by the Executive Order as soon as we know more. In case of an emergency, please contact our offices immediately. We are Ibrahim Law Office, an immigration law firm, and we are here to help you or your loved one.

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