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Presidential Proclamation Suspending Immigration Due to COVID-19

Presidential Proclamation…

The coronavirus pandemic sweeping the globe has caused countries to take a number of measures to protect their citizens and their economies. Some of these measures have been timely and effective; others, less so.

On Wednesday, April 22, President Donald J. Trump signed a proclamation regarding immigration in light of the coronavirus and COVID-19. With the number of confirmed cases and deaths from the virus dominating the news, a presidential proclamation may have escaped your attention. But this proclamation will have a serious impact on immigrants. Those immigrants that the Trump administration has identified as presenting risk to the U.S. labor market following the COVID-19 outbreak will be prevented from entering the United States.

The proclamation took effect at 11:59 p.m. on Thursday, April 23. It is set to expire sixty days from that date, but could be continued by the President.

What Does the Presidential Proclamation Do?

The proclamation bars “the entry into the United States of aliens as immigrants” subject to numerous exceptions. This bar is intended to prevent the U.S. labor market from being flooded with immigrants who might take jobs away from United States citizens during this time of high unemployment. The proclamation also states that consular offices abroad need to devote their limited State Department resources to providing services to American citizens abroad.

The presidential proclamation goes on to say that, unless intervention occurs, the United States could face a long economic recovery with consistent high unemployment and a labor supply that outpaces demand for workers. According to the president, preventing the labor surplus will especially protect those American workers who are forced out of work first when the economy contracts, and last to find work when it expands again. The proclamation states that African Americans, the non-college educated, and other historically marginalized groups fall into this at-risk category. Limiting foreign workers in the United States, the proclamation implies, will protect these groups.

It goes on to say that lawful permanent residents, once admitted into the U.S., receive employment authorization that makes them eligible to compete for jobs in all sectors of the economy. The President asserts that this puts Americans who may already be at a disadvantage, in an even worse position. Further, the proclamation notes that most immigrant visa categories do not require American employers to account for how many U.S. workers have been displaced by immigrants.

Further, the President claims that foreign workers put an additional burden on the U.S. healthcare system at a time when it is already strained by COVID-19. All these factors, according to the President, make it necessary to bar immigrants who could present a risk to the U.S. labor market.

Who is Affected by the Presidential Proclamation?

The proclamation does NOT affect the following categories of people:

  • Naturalized U.S. citizens;
  • Lawful permanent residents (green card holders);
  • Individuals holding valid immigrant visas on the date that the date the proclamation took effect.

While the proclamation states that “aliens as immigrants” are barred from the United States for 60 days, it does provide a number of exceptions to that broad group. Exceptions to the proclamation include:

  • Certain healthcare professionals;
  • Individuals pursuing an EB-5 investor visa;
  • Spouses and children of U.S. citizens with IR2, CR2, IR3, IH3, IR4, and IH4 visas, including prospective adoptees;
  • Members of the U.S. Armed Forces and their spouses and children;
  • Aliens looking to enter the U.S. under an Afghan and Iraqi Special Immigrant Visa;
  • Aliens whose entry into the U.S. would further important law enforcement objectives. Whether entry would further an important law enforcement objective would be determined by the U.S. Attorney General, Secretary of State, Secretary of Homeland Security or their respective designees;
  • Any alien whose entry into the country would be in the national interest. Whether entry would be in the national interest would be determined by the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Homeland Security, or their respective designees.

Visas that were valid at the time of the proclamation will not be revoked, and the proclamation is not retroactive.

Resources permitting, U.S. consulates and embassies will offer mission-critical and emergency visa services for those applicants who meet one of the above exceptions. However, routine visa services have been suspended at those international locations.

If you have further questions about the presidential proclamation or what it means for a family member or other loved one, we invite you to contact our law office to schedule a consultation.

Categories: Immigration Law