This is a summary of the April 22, 2020 Proclamation Suspending Entry of Immigrants Who Present Risk to the U.S. labor market during the economic recovery following the COVID-19 outbreak by the American Immigration Lawyers Association and the American Immigration Council.
For 60 days, beginning April 23, 2020 at 11:59 PM (ET), Trump’s “Proclamation” blocks entry of any individual seeking to enter the U.S. as an immigrant 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.
The following categories are exempted from the proclamation:
- Lawful permanent residents (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, aka “Million-Dollar Investors.”
- Spouses of U.S. citizens.
- Children of U.S. citizens under the age 21 and prospective adoptees seeking to enter on an IR- 4 or IH-4 visa.
- Individuals 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 (SI or SQ classification).
- Individuals whose entry would be in the national interest (as determined by the Secretaries of State and DHS, or their respective designees).
Nonimmigrant visa holders are not included in the proclamation. However, the proclamation requires within 30 days of the effective date, the Secretaries of Labor and DHS, 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.
Asylum seekers are not included in the ban. The proclamation states that it does not limit the ability of individuals to apply for asylum, refugee status, withholding of removal or protection under the Convention Against Torture.
Prioritized Removal. Individuals who circumvent the application of this proclamation through fraud, willful misrepresentation or illegal entry will be prioritized for removal.
Expiration. 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.
Damon Key’s immigration attorneys note that, in practical terms, Trump’s decision to suspend the issuance of immigrant visas for the next 60 days doesn’t change anything: due to the coronavirus pandemic, all US consular posts in the world are already closed for visa appointments in order to safeguard the health of visa officers and other consular staff. IT ALSO DOES NOT STOP OR PREVENT IMMIGRATION PROCESSING FOR THOSE WHO ARE ALREADY IN THE U.S.
It will, however affect tens of thousands of people and is a significant step forward for the efforts of Trump and Stephen Miller, his close adviser, to dramatically restrict legal immigration into the U.S. It is estimated that, as applied to the 1.1 million green cards typically issued each year, this would block more than 350,000 of them. Many commentators are in agreement with Shev Dalal-Dheini, Director of Government Relations for the American Immigration Lawyers Association: “This is just an effort by the administration to distract from its inability to effectively manage the COVID-19 crisis.”