President Signs Proclamation to Temporarily Suspend Immigration to the United States
EB-5 Investors Among Those Exempted.
Washington, D.C., April 24, 2020: Citing the COVID-19 pandemic, President Trump signed a Presidential Proclamation on Thursday which temporarily suspends immigration to the United States for 60 days.
The proclamation becomes effective on Thursday, April 23, 2020 at 11:59 PM (ET) and specifically restricts the entry of any individual seeking to enter the U.S. as an immigrant (green card holder) 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 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.
The proclamation contains several exemptions, including:
- Lawful permanent residents of the U.S. (LPR).
- 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 combatting, recovering from, or otherwise alleviating the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak (as determined by the Secretaries of State and Department of Homeland Security (DHS), or their respective designees).
- Individuals applying for a visa to enter the U.S. pursuant to the EB-5 immigrant investor visa program.
- Spouses of U.S. citizens.
- Children of U.S. citizens under the age of 21 and prospective adoptees seeking to enter on an IR-4 or IH-4 visa.
- Any individual who would further important U.S. law enforcement objectives (as determined by the Secretaries of DHS and State based on the recommendation of the Attorney General (AG), or their respective designees)
- Members of the U.S. Armed Forces and their spouses and children.
- Individuals and their spouses or children eligible for Special Immigrant Visas as an Afghan or Iraqi translator/interpreter or U.S. Government Employee.
- Individuals whose entry would be in the national interest (as determined by the Secretaries of State and DHS, or their respective designees).
The Proclamation confirms that U.S. Consular Officers have complete discretion to determine whether an individual qualifies for one of the exemptions listed above.
Temporary non-immigrant visa holders are not included in the proclamation. However, the proclamation requires that within 30 days of the effective date, the Secretaries of Labor and the Department of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Secretary of State, shall review non-immigrant visa 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. Commentators and practitioners have predicted that a second proclamation targeting temporary work visas is a possibility.
The proclamation expires 60-days from its effective date and may be continued as necessary. Within 50 days from the effective date, the Secretary of DHS shall, in consultation with the Secretaries of State and Labor, recommend whether the President should continue or modify the proclamation.
Of significant concern is that the 60-day suspension may evolve into a longer-term ban. Many view the current proclamation as an effort by the President to focus attention away from COVID-19-related difficulties and frame immigration restrictions as an economic necessity before the upcoming election in November.
We will continue to report on updates to this proclamation and any details on future policies as information is announced.