04/23/2020

President Trump signs executive order limiting certain green card applications for 60 days

President Trump’s new executive order temporarily suspends the approval of certain green card applications. The order is very narrow, mostly affecting only a small number of people who are now outside the U.S. applying for green cards at consular offices around the world.  There are several exceptions, including 1) health care workers and medical researchers and their families, 2) spouses and minor children of U.S. citizens, and 3) individuals whose entry is in the national interest.

Most people filing applications within the United States are not affected by this order. It does not prevent anyone from traveling on advance parole. It also does not affect anyone’s temporary visa status. The order also exempts anyone who is in the United States on the date of the order and anyone who has already received immigrant visas to enter the United States.

This will have very little effect on employment-based immigration.

The order will last 60 days from April 23, 2020 at 11:59pm.

04/22/2020

The executive order is expected to be released today, April 22nd. Reports indicate that it a 60-day ban on green cards processed abroad.  That will likely affect very few people because most US consulates are closed for green card processing because of COVID-19.  Reporting also says that there could be additional restrictions on H-1Bs in the coming month, but no details as of yet.

We will keep this page updated as events unfold.

04/21/2020

Late on Monday, April 20th, President Trump tweeted his plan to suspend immigration to the United States.

It is hard to interpret a vague, late-night tweet – but reporting in the New York Times supports taking this seriously:

“[T]he president’s late-night announcement on Monday signals his most wide-ranging attempt yet to seal off the country from the rest of the world. A formal order temporarily barring the provision of new green cards and work visas could come as early as the next few days, according to several people familiar with the plan.”

The Wall Street Journal points out that the policy goal is to protect U.S. workers, and that “Even without an executive order, the administration has already all but ceased nearly every form of immigration. Most visa processing has been halted.”  The President is invoking public health laws, some of which predate our immigration laws, so the situation (like so many things these days) is unprecedented.

At this point, we have to accept uncertainty, follow the situation carefully, and prioritize as best we can.

Right now we are generally recommending that foreign nationals abroad with valid passport visa stamps return to the United States sooner rather than later, if they can do so safely.

For those in the US, the ban is unlikely to affect applications filed here – though we cannot be sure. We hope to continue to be able to file temporary visa extensions, changes of status and green card applications. If an Executive Order attempts to stop USCIS processing in the US, there will be court challenges.

We will keep this page updated as events unfold.