Trump’s Proclamation Suspending Certain Immigration: What Does it Mean for You?
On April 22, 2020, President Donald Trump signed a Presidential Proclamation suspending the entry into the United States of certain categories of immigrants for 60 days. The stated reason for the proclamation is to protect those American workers who are at “the margin between employment and unemployment,” who have become unemployed due to COVID-19. The president had announced his intention to “suspend immigration into the United States” in a tweet on Monday night.
Who is affected by the proclamation?
The proclamation does not suspend all immigration. It applies only to the following:
- Those who are seeking admission as immigrants; and
- Who were outside the United States when the proclamation went into effect (April 23, 2020 at 11:59 PM EDT); and
- Who do not have an immigrant visa that is valid when the proclamation went into effect; and
- Who do not have an official document, valid at the time the proclamation went into effect or issued thereafter, permitting him or her to travel to the United States and seek entry or admission (examples include a transportation letter, an appropriate boarding foil, or an advance parole document).
Anyone who does not meet any one of these conditions is excluded from the proclamation’s reach. If you are applying for a nonimmigrant visa, the proclamation does not apply to you. If you were in the United States at 11:59 PM EDT on April 23, 2020 and then later traveled outside of the United States, the proclamation does not apply to you. If you have an immigrant visa that was valid as of 11:59 PM EDT on April 23, 2020, the proclamation does not apply to you. And if you were issued an advance parole document that was valid at 11:59 PM EDT on April 23, 2020, or if you were issued one later, the proclamation does not apply to you.
In addition, the proclamation exempts several additional categories of immigrants, including:
- lawful permanent residents of the U.S.;
- certain healthcare professionals and medical researchers;
- immigrant investors;
- spouses of U.S. citizens;
- children of U.S. citizens who are under 21 years of age;
- those whose entry would further U.S. law enforcement objectives;
- members of the U.S. armed forces, and their spouses and children;
- those seeking admission pursuant to a Special Immigrant Visa (SI or SQ categories), and their spouses and children;
- anyone else whose entry would be in the national interest.
How will the proclamation be enforced?
The consular officer has no authority to apply the proclamation to one who is excluded from its scope. However, the officer will have discretion to determine whether an exemption applies. The proclamation directs the Departments of State and Homeland Security to issue guidance on how it should be enforced. There is no telling when such guidance will be issued or how consistent the enforcement will be even after it is.
How long will the proclamation last?
The proclamation is effective for 60 days, beginning April 23, 2020 at 11:59 PM EDT, but may be extended. The proclamation directs the Secretary of Homeland Security to report back in 50 days with a recommendation on whether to extend or modify its terms.
Does the policy apply to nonimmigrants?
No. Section 1 of the proclamation states that it applies to “the entry into the United States of aliens as immigrants.”
Who should be most concerned about this proclamation?
It is important to understand that this proclamation is limited in scope. It does not suspend all immigration and has no effect on most applications for immigrant benefits. That being said, no one should leave anything up to chance. It is important to take steps to reduce the chances that a consular officer will deny your entry into the U.S. based on this proclamation.
Those who are most at risk are:
- Anyone applying for an immigrant visa who was outside of the United States on April 23, 2020 at 11:59 PM EDT; and
- Anyone who travels abroad after April 23, 2020 at 11:59 PM EDT.
If you have any questions about how the proclamation may apply to you, please do not hesitate to give us a call.