President Donald Trump announced via twitter that he would sign an executive order suspending immigration to the United States. The twitter announcement created widespread speculation on the breadth of the order, and generated concerns of a total ban of immigration to the United States.
The official text of the Executive Order proved to be much narrower than initial speculation had suggested. The Order imposes a 60-day suspension on the U.S. consulates abroad from issuing immigrant visas—a precursor document for persons outside the U.S. who seek to enter and become lawful permanent residents (i.e. green card holders). All of the U.S. consulates abroad are currently closed for the foreseeable future due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Order includes exemptions for spouses and minor children of U.S. citizens, health care professionals, any member of the United States military and their spouses and children, foreign nationals in the EB-5 investor visa program, and anyone entering for law enforcement or national security reasons. The Order will be reevaluated for renewal at the end of the 60-day period.
The Order only applies to persons outside of the United States at the effective time of the Order—11:59 p.m. eastern daylight time on April 23, 2020, and who had not already been issued an immigrant visa by a U.S. consulate. The order does not apply to persons in the U.S. seeking green cards via an I-485 adjustment of status application, or by consular processing abroad. In addition, the order does not impact temporary nonimmigrant work visas or status, such as H-1B, L-1, TN, etc. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services should continue to process all green card applications and petitions for temporary work authorization and nonimmigrant status.
This is a developing story, and the Frost Brown Todd Immigration Group is closely monitoring the situation. If you have any questions relating to the executive order, please contact Matthew O. Wagner, Alicia Visse-Kroger, or any other attorney in Frost Brown Todd’s Immigration Group.