New proclamation restricting certain immigrants

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?

Non-citizens who:

  • Are outside the United States
  • Do not have a valid immigrant visa; and
  • Do not have valid travel documents such as Advance Parole, Boarding Foil, or Transportation Letter.

Who is exempt from the proclamation?

  • Lawful permanent residents
  • Immigrant visa applicants in the following categories:
    • Spouses and unmarried children under 21 years of age of U.S. citizens and certain prospective adoptees
  • Special Immigrant Visa applicants in the SI or SQ category
  • EB-5 investor visa applicants
  • Any member, and any spouse and children of a member, of the United States Armed Forces
  • Health care professionals and certain medical researchers performing work related to COVID-19, and any spouse and unmarried children under 21 years old
  • Individuals whose entry would further important United States law enforcement objectives
  • Individuals whose entry would be in the national interest

Who does the proclamation NOT apply to?

  • Immigrants already present in the United States, including those seeking Adjustment of Status
  • People seeking asylum, refugee status, withholding of removal or protection under the Convention Against Torture
  • Individuals seeking non-immigrant visas.  

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.