On Wednesday, April 22, 2020, the current administration issued an executive order regarding immigration. The stated goal of the administration is that they are “…taking action to temporarily pause immigration and protect American workers as we confront the coronavirus.” Regardless of the validity of those goals and the effectiveness of this measure, the fact remains that it is now in place, and it is affecting the way the immigration system operates. This proclamation has a duration of 60 days from April 23, 2020. After 30 days, they will review and consider if it is necessary to expand to some non-immigrant categories. On no later than day 50 of the ban, they will consider if an extension is necessary or not.
The direct impact is that, while this proclamation is in effect, about a third of the number of green cards issued every year will not be able to be issued (out of 1.1 million green cards that are issued each year, some 358,000 would not be approved under this proclamation). This is enough to bring concern to advocates and people of good will and to spread fear among the immigrant communities. However, upon closer observation of the proclamation, we notice that the scenario is a bit less bleak than it could have been. Let us break down the main points of the proclamation.
Who does the proclamation apply to?
Who is exempt from the proclamation?
Who does the proclamation NOT apply to?
With that in mind, anybody inside the United States eligible to apply for a green card is still able to do it, and it should be processed normally. Additionally, any eligible U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident can file family petitions, even for family members that are abroad and would be affected by the proclamation. In conclusion, this proclamation affects mainly the processing of immigrant visas (‘green cards”) at the US Consulates throughout the world. However, since the start of the COVID-19 crisis, all Consulates have been closed and are not processing these applications; therefore, nothing is changing at present in the practice. As usual, we strongly suggest you seek personalized legal advice before taking any action regarding your immigration case.