Immigration Proclamation Signed: 60-day Suspension for New Green Card Entries to U.S.

Immigration Proclamation Signed: 60-day Suspension for New Green Card Entries to U.S.

The White House announced President Trump signed a presidential proclamation limiting immigration, set to become effective at 11:59 p.m. eastern daylight time on April 23, 2020. For the next 60 days, “the entry into the United States of aliens as immigrants is hereby suspended.” The order goes on to exempt certain immigrant visa categories, such as applicants for the EB-5 visa program and certain relatives of U.S. citizens.

The order, titled “Proclamation Suspending Entry of Immigrants Who Present Risk to the U.S. Labor Market During the Economic Recovery Following the COVID-19 Outbreak” cites record unemployment levels as the reason for limiting foreign workers from entering the U.S. labor market. Consular officers are given discretion to determine whether an immigrant has established his or her eligibility for one of the exceptions outlined by the order.

While the order is effective for 60 days, there is also a review provision at the 30-day mark to evaluate whether additional nonimmigrant categories should be added to the order. The proclamation directs the Secretary of Labor and the Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Secretary of State to “review nonimmigrant programs and shall recommend… other measures appropriate to stimulate the United States economy and ensure the prioritization, hiring, and employment of United States workers.” This review may lead to additional restrictions for H-1B, L-1, and other nonimmigrant visa categories.

Below are some frequently asked questions we have received over the past couple of days as the text was still forthcoming.

I’m a permanent resident. Does this affect my ability to travel?

The order only applies to individuals attempting to enter the U.S. as immigrants who do not already have an immigrant visa valid for April 23, 2020. Green card holders living in the U.S. have no travel restrictions and individuals attempting to adjust their status to permanent resident while already residing in the U.S. are not affected. Unless a member of one of the exempted classes, individuals receiving green cards after the effective date will not be allowed to enter for at least 60 days.

I am living in the U.S. and my green card is in progress. Can I still become a permanent resident when approved?

The order prohibits all entry of immigrants without existing valid immigrant visas. If you are already in the United States as of April 23, 2020 and you are attempting to adjust your status to permanent resident, you will not be affected by the current executive order.

I am outside of the U.S. and my green card is in progress. Can I still enter as a permanent resident when approved?

If your green card is in progress and is approved within the next 60 days, you will not be able to enter as a permanent resident if you are living abroad unless you are in an exempted category.

I live in the United States with a pending I-485. I have approved advance parole documents and wish to travel abroad. Does this affect my ability to reenter the U.S.?

Advance parole allows you to travel without abandoning your green card status. If you have an underlying nonimmigrant status such as an H-1B, H-4, L-1, or L-2 visa, you may also reenter the U.S. using that documentation as long as the green card is not yet approved. However, you would no longer be eligible for a nonimmigrant visa stamp if the I-485 is approved.

If the I-485 is approved while abroad, it is possible that Customs and Border Patrol officers will not allow you to reenter utilizing the advance parole documentation. The proclamation will likely prevent your entry for at least 60 days (or longer if the order is extended). Travel abroad may be risky if your case is close to approval.

I or my spouse work as a healthcare professional and plan to enter the U.S. to assist in the COVID-19 effort. Our green cards were approved after the effective date. Can travel to the United States as permanent residents?

The order specifically allows individuals entering on an immigrant visa such as a physician, nurse, or other healthcare professional “to perform medical research or other research intended to combat the spread of COVID-19; or to perform work essential to combating, recovering from, or otherwise alleviating the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak.” The order also allows any spouse and unmarried children under 21 years old to accompany or follow to join the individual.

I have invested money in an EB-5 project and my green card is approved after the effective date. Can I enter with my immigrant visa?

The order exempts EB-5 immigrants, likely due to the job creation generated by EB-5 investments. Investors can enter the United States, even after the effective date of the executive order.

I am a U.S. citizen and I have petitioned for my spouse to enter the U.S. as a green card holder. Will my spouse be able to join me?

The rule allows the spouses of U.S. citizens to continue to enter the country.

The order suspends “immigrants” for 60 days, but what are the exemptions from the executive order?

At this time, no nonimmigrant categories (such as H-1B, B-1, L-1, etc.) are affected by the order. Only individuals applying for new green cards or getting new approvals after the effective date are suspended from entering. Individuals in the following categories can continue to enter during the 60-day period, whether their immigrant visa was valid on the effective date or is approved later:

  • EB-5 investors
  • Spouses of U.S. citizens
  • Children of U.S. citizens under 21 years of age
  • Prospective adoptee (entering on IR-4 or IH-4 visa classifications)
  • Individuals critical to law enforcement objectives
  • Members of U.S. Armed Forces and their spouses and children
  • Special Immigrant Visa holders in the SI or SQ classifications and their spouse and children
  • Immigrants whose entry would be in the national interest

I am working using an H-1B visa in the United States and my green card should be approved soon. Will this order prevent me from becoming a permanent resident?

This order only prevents entry from new immigrants from abroad and does not affect individuals adjusting status within the United States.

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