Executive Order Temporarily Suspending Immigration to the United States: What We Know

Here’s What We Know (As of April 23, 2020, 11:00 am (CDT))

On April 20, 2020, President Trump tweeted that he would sign an Executive Order to temporarily suspend immigration into the United States as a result of the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

During a press briefing on April 21, 2020, President Trump announced: “This order will only apply to individuals seeking a permanent residency, in other words, those receiving green cards.” He noted that the order “will not apply to those entering on a temporary basis” and that “the pause will be in
effect for 60 days” with the possibility of a later extension or modification.

President Trump later signed a proclamation effective on Thursday, April 23, 2020 at 11:59 PM (EDT), that suspends the entry of any individual seeking to enter the U.S. as an immigrant (permanent resident) who:

  • Is outside the United States on the effective date of the proclamation;
  • Does not have a valid immigrant visa on the effective date; and
  • Does not have a valid official travel document (such as a transportation letter, boarding foil, or advance parole document) on the effective date, or issued on any date thereafter that permits travel to the United States to seek entry or admission.

This Executive Order does not apply to:

  • People already in the United States on April 23, 2020;
  • Nonimmigrants (people with temporary visas);
  • People outside the United States who already have a visa or advance parole;
  • Current lawful permanent residents (LPR);
  • Certain medical professionals and their families;
  • Spouses and children under 21 of U.S. citizens;
  • Individuals who further certain law enforcement objectives;
  • Members of the U.S. Armed Forces and their spouses/children;
  • Afghan/Iraqi translators/U.S. government employees and their spouses/children;
  • Persons whose entry is in the U.S. national interest.

Fact

  • Routine visa services at all U.S. embassies and consular posts around the world have been suspended as of March 20, 2020. U.S. embassies and consulates continue to provide urgent and emergency visa services as resources allow. The Department of State (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) has temporarily suspended in-person services through at least May 3, 2020, including in-person interviews and biometrics processing. USCIS staff will continue to perform duties that do not involve contact with the public and will provide emergency services for limited in-person situations.
  • The U.S. borders with Canada and Mexico are closed for non-essential travel until at least May 20, 2020.
  • With some exceptions, the entry of individuals who were present in China, Iran, the Schengen Area, the U.K., and Ireland, during the 14-day period before their attempted entry into the United States has also been suspended.
  • Despite these limitations, USCIS continues to accept and process applications and petitions, including applications requesting an extension or change of status.

Fiction

  • There will be a complete halt on all immigration into the United States.
  • Based on what we know, there will NOT be a complete halt on immigration. President Trump announced in a press briefing on April 21 that the suspension will only apply to individuals seeking permanent residency and will not affect those entering the country on a temporary basis. The President also indicated that the Executive Order will include some exemptions.
  • Finally, the President also referred to the possibility of extending the 60-day suspension and additional orders.

What MIA is Doing

We do not expect that most MIA clients or their families will be affected by this order. Still, we are closely monitoring the situation and will reach out to clients who might be affected by the Executive Order as soon as we know more.

Thanks to the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) for its analysis of the April 22, 2020 Executive Order.



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by Allison Wannamaker, Esq

Allison Wannamaker, a native Memphian, serves as MIA’s Managing Director.
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