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Apr 2020
24
April 24, 2020

A Concise Analysis of the New Proclamation Suspending Entry of Immigrants into the U.S.

The new Presidential “Proclamation Suspending Entry of Immigrants Who Present Risk to the U.S. Labor Market During the Economic Recovery Following the COVID‑19 Outbreak” became effective just before midnight on April 23, 2020. There was a great deal of concern leading up to the publishing of the Proclamation, with some fearing draconian effects. In actuality, the Proclamation does little to change the immigration landscape in place since late March 2020.

The Proclamation does not affect any alien already in the U.S. Moreover, it does not restrict the entry into the U.S. of nonimmigrants (aliens holding temporary visas such as B, E, F‑1, H‑1B, J‑1, L‑1, O‑1 and TN). The Proclamation only restricts the entry of immigrants into the U.S. for an initial 60-day period. The Proclamation also requires that U.S. immigration authorities recommend whether to extend its restrictions to nonimmigrants within the next 30 days. The stated purpose is to protect minorities, the disabled and those without college degrees from increased competition in the U.S. labor market and also to reduce the strain on the domestic health care system. Undoubtedly, the restriction will come as a blow to those whom it impacts. Practically, however, the prohibition on entry into the U.S. does not cast a wide net.

With the exception of emergency cases (including medical personnel and temporary workers in the food industry), the issuance of both nonimmigrant and immigrant visas had already been suspended at U.S. embassies and consulates on a worldwide basis since March 20, 2020. Moreover, it should be remembered that international travel was previously banned from China in late January 2020; from Iran in February 2020; and then from most of Europe in March 2020. Thus, in essence, the Proclamation amounts to little more than a 60-day moratorium on the processing of some family- and employment-based immigrant visas.  

The Proclamation’s restriction on entry only applies to those immigrants currently outside the U.S. who do not already have an immigrant visa or other travel document (e.g., a transportation letter or an advance parole document). The Proclamation does not prohibit the entry of: 
 
  • Nonimmigrants (e.g., B, E, F, H, J, L, O or TN visa holders).
  • Intending immigrants who already have an immigrant visa.
  • Intending immigrants with transportation letters, boarding foils or advance parole documents.
  • Lawful Permanent Residents (i.e., green card holders).
  • Health care professionals whose work may alleviate the effects of COVID‑19.
  • EB-5 Immigrant Investors.
  • Spouses, minor children and prospective adoptees of U.S. citizens.
  • Aliens whose entry furthers U.S. law enforcement interests.
  • U.S. armed forces members, spouses and children.
  • Afghan or Iraqi translators.
  • U.S. Government employees.
  • Aliens whose entry is in the U.S. national interest.

Although the Proclamation’s exceptions exceed its prohibition on entry, as indicated above, the Proclamation itself is largely ineffective. The Proclamation will have little impact on U.S. immigration until U.S. embassies and consulates resume issuing visas—presuming the Proclamation is still in effect when that occurs.

For questions related to this or any other immigration matter, please contact Michael Wooley. Read our other immigration eAlerts that were published on March 26, 2020, and March 27, 2020, for further guidance on COVID-19 immigration concerns.

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