By Sang Shin, Christian Triantaphyllis, & Catharine Yen
On April 22, 2020, President Donald J. Trump signed an executive order entitled “Proclamation Suspending Entry of Immigrants Who Present Risk to the US Labor Market During the Economic Recovery Following the COVID-19 Outbreak.” The proclamation will become effective starting on Thursday, April 23, 2020 at 11:59 PM and is initially expected to remain in place for 60 days.
The proclamation suspends entry for individuals seeking admission into the U.S. and who:
- Are outside of the United States on the effective date of the proclamation;
- Do not have a valid immigrant visa on the effective date of the proclamation; and
- Do not have a valid official travel document (such as a transportation letter, boarding foil, or advance parole document) on the effective date of the proclamation, or issued on any date thereafter that permits travel to the United States to seek entry or admission.
The following categories, among others, are exempted from the ban:
- Lawful Permanent Residents (LPR);
- Individuals applying for a visa to enter the U.S. pursuant to the EB5 immigrant investor visa program;
- Spouses of U.S. Citizens;
- 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 combating, recovering from, or otherwise alleviating the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak (contingent upon the discretionary review of U.S. immigration officials); and
- Individuals whose entry would be in the national interest of the United States (contingent upon the discretionary review of U.S. immigration officials).
In summary, this means that individuals who are currently outside the U.S. and seek an immigrant visa to enter the U.S. are prohibited from doing so within the next 60 days (unless the applicant qualifies for an exemption). The proclamation points to high domestic unemployment, depressed demand for labor, conservation of critical State Department resources and the protection of U.S. workers as the primary reasons for implementing the temporary ban.
Currently, the suspension does not include temporary (nonimmigrant) visa holders and those adjusting to green card status within the United States. However, the proclamation states that the Secretaries of Labor and Department of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Secretary of State, shall review nonimmigrant programs and recommend to the President other appropriate measures to stimulate the U.S. economy and ensure “the prioritization, hiring and employment” of U.S. workers within 30 days of the effective date of the proclamation.
This proclamation is in addition to other immigration-specific measures that have already been implemented over the last month, including the following:
- On March 20, 2020, a majority of visa services at the U.S. embassies and consulates abroad were suspended, which has prevented entry for most temporary visa workers.
- U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) suspended in-person services (including biometrics processing and interviews) until May 3, 2020.
- The U.S. borders with Canada and Mexico are closed for non-essential travelers until at least May 20, 2020.
- Banned entry of individuals who were present in China, Iran, the Schengen Area of Europe, the United Kingdom and Ireland during the 14-day period before attempted entry into the United States.
These measures still remain in effect, although USCIS continues to accept and process applications and petitions at their major Service Centers in the United States (in-country extensions, change of status, amendment filings).
As uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic persists and unemployment rates continue to rise, amendments to U.S. immigration policy are likely to follow. Stay tuned.
For questions related to immigration, please contact Sang Shin, Christian Triantaphyllis, and Catharine Yen.
Sang Shin is an experienced immigration attorney with a demonstrated history of successfully representing clients in their immigration matters. Sang advises clients through various immigration applications, including but not limited to: L-1, H-1B, TN, B-1/B-2, B-1 in lieu of H-1B, B-1 OCS, F-1, E-2, E-3, O-1, EADs, Advance Parole as well as PERM Labor Certification, I-140 Immigrant Petitions in the EB1, EB2 and EB3 categories along with Adjustment of Status and Naturalization. Sang also advises client through audits conducted by various government entities including I-9 Audits and review of LCA Public Access Files.
Christian A. Triantaphyllis is a Houston immigration and real estate attorney and the chair of Jackson Walker’s Investment Immigration practice. Christian represents foreign nationals and immigrant investors in cross-border and business immigration matters, usually dealing with regional centers and direct investments. He takes pride in easing the process for foreign nationals related to EB-5 immigrant investment petitions; I-924 Regional Center applications and amendments; petitions to acquire work-authorization for foreign national professional employees; and immigration law compliance in accordance with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, Customs and Border Protection, and the Department of State.
Catharine Yen is an attorney in the real estate and land use practice of Jackson Walker’s Houston office with particular experience in foreign investment and immigration matters. Catharine represents foreign nationals and immigrant investors in all aspects of the EB-5 process to facilitate cross-border and business immigration transactions dealing with regional centers and direct investments. Catharine’s knowledge of the EB-5 visa program, process, and timeline has allowed her to file hundreds of approved I-526 and I-829 petitions. She also regularly prepares and files I-924 Regional Center Applications.
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