Executive Order Bars Many First-Time Immigrants from Entering the United States for 60 Days

April 24, 2020

On April 22, 2020, an Executive Order entitled "Proclamation Suspending Entry of Immigrants Who Present Risk to the U.S. Labor Market During the Economic Recovery Following the COVID-19 Outbreak," outlined a 60-day pause for immigrants entering the United States for the first time. This is a narrow order affecting employment-based immigrants only.

Who is Affected?

The Proclamation only affects first-time immigrants entering from abroad and specifically those sponsored for green cards by U.S. employers.

The Proclamation does not apply to nonimmigrant visas, including H-1B, L-1, E-2, O-1, R-1 and other visa categories. It also does not affect current U.S. permanent residents.

The Proclamation further has no impact and does not apply to individuals in the United States currently and who might apply for permanent residence through adjustment of status with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Effective Date of Proclamation

The effective date under this Proclamation commenced as of 11:59 pm Eastern Daylight time on Thursday, April 23, 2020, for a 60-day period - with the option to be reviewed and continued "as necessary."

Who is Exempt from this Proclamation?

All U.S. citizens, all U.S. permanent residents and the following are permitted to enter the United States from abroad:

  • Individuals and their spouses seeking to enter the United States on an immigrant visa as a physician, nurse, or other healthcare professional to perform essential work to combat, recover from, or otherwise alleviate the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak (as determined by the U.S. Secretary of State or Department of Homeland Security, or their designees);
  • Individuals applying for a visa to enter the U.S. pursuant to the EB-5 immigrant investor program;
  • Spouses of U.S. citizens;
  • Children of U.S. citizens under 21 and prospective adoptees;
  • Individuals furthering important U.S. law enforcement objectives;
  • Members of U.S. Armed Forces and their spouses and children;
  • Individuals and their spouses eligible for special immigrant visas as Afghan or Iraqi translators/interpreters or U.S. government employees;
  • Individuals whose entry would be in the national interest;
  • Asylum seekers; and/or
  • Nonimmigrant visa holders (i.e., A, B, F-1, H-1B, L-1, O-1, R-1 and E-2 visa holders and others).

Who Else Will be Excluded from Completing their Immigrant Visa Processing for the Next 60 days?

The parents of U.S. citizens, considered immediate relatives, will have their cases deferred until the 60-day period concludes and conditions are reviewed. Siblings of U.S. citizens will have their cases similarly deferred.

Are Current Travel Bans due to COVID-19 Still in Effect?

All travel bans from Europe, Canada and Mexico remain in effect.

Do We Expect Additional Restrictions on U.S. immigration?

It is possible that agencies such as the U.S. Department of Labor and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security might make additional recommendations to the President regarding future restrictions within 30 days of the effective date of the Proclamation - on or about May 23, 2020. We will continue to monitor any updated immigration restrictions that might affect your business.

What Does this Mean for U.S. Businesses?

In view of the high unemployment rate and health risk due to COVID-19, it is clear that the administration is circling the wagons to protect the health of American citizens and the U.S. labor market. In past crises, immigration restrictions were also imposed by prior administrations. Until we see a turnaround from this pandemic, we can expect further tightening of restrictions on foreign hires. Usually these restrictions are short-lived and lifted after the crisis passes and we believe the same will happen in this case.

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