Trump’s executive order ‘suspending’ immigration

IMMIGRATION CORNER - Michael J. Gurfinkel - The Philippine Star

On April 22, 2020, President Trump issued an Executive Order (EO) or Proclamation, effective at 11:59 p.m. on April 23, 2020, suspending, for 60 days, the entry of immigrants into the US, as they may compete for jobs with unemployed Americans caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Some highlights are:

1. It applies to:

a. Immigrant visa applicants (both employment and family based cases) who are outside the US on the effective date. Therefore, it does not seem to affect people in the US applying for adjustment of status. 

b. The person does not yet have an immigrant visa that is valid on the effective date of the proclamation, meaning an immigrant visa has not yet been issued in their passport.

c. They do not have any kind of official travel or entry document, such as advance parole, boarding letter, etc. that allows them to enter the US in lieu of having an immigrant visa.

2. This proclamation does not apply to the following:

a. Existing green card holders, who may be outside the US on a trip or vacation

b. Any alien seeking to enter the US on an immigrant visa as a physician, nurse, or other healthcare professional, who will help in combating COVID-19, or recovering from COVID-19, including their immediate family.

c. EB-5 investors

d. Spouses and children of US citizens, and members of the Armed Forces and their families

e. People with nonimmigrant visas such as tourist visas, H-1B visas etc.

The proclamation will expire 60 days from its effective date, and could be extended or modified. Trump said the purpose of this 60-day suspension is to ensure that unemployed Americans will be first in line for jobs as the economy reopens, and it’s not fair to them to have to compete with newly arrived immigrants who may have “open market” employment authorizations, allowing them to work anywhere.

In my opinion, this Proclamation is not that disruptive to intending immigrants:

• Embassies are closed at the present time anyway.  No interviews are being scheduled or visas are being issued, and it’s unlikely a person will be scheduled for an interview within the next 60 days.

• For employment based Labor Certification, the employer went through tremendous trouble and advertising to recruit US workers, and had the job “certified” for the alien. It’s unlikely the employer can advertise and interview a qualified US worker within the next 60 days anyway.  How would any job interview occur if everyone is “shelter in place” and many businesses are closed?

If you may be affected by these changes in immigration or your case is subject to this proclamation, you may want to consult with an attorney to evaluate your situation and the effects of Trump’s proclamations on your case.

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