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Executive Order Temporarily Suspending Immigration to the U.S.

UPDATE 06/25/2020 President Trump extended the suspension of immigrant visas discussed in this article to December 31, 2020.  Read more on this extension and what other immigration benefits were suspended here


On April 22, 2020, President Trump issued an
executive order temporarily suspending immigration to the U.S. of certain categories of immigrants.  The order is in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the high level of unemployment caused by the social distancing mitigation strategies implemented throughout the country.  The executive order takes effect on April 23, 2020 at 11:59 p.m. ET and suspends entry into the U.S. of individuals who are outside of the U.S. as of the effective date and who:

  • do not already have an immigrant visa valid on the effective date of the order; and
  • do not already have another transportation document other than a visa (such as advance parole, transportation letter or boarding foil) allowing travel and admission to the U.S.

This executive order does not apply to, and will not suspend immigration benefits for:

  • foreign nationals already present in the U.S. who seek adjustment of status to permanent residence
  • foreign nationals already present in the U.S. who seek extension of nonimmigrant status, or change of status to nonimmigrant classifications

This executive order also does not apply to, and will not suspend entry to the U.S. of:

  • lawful permanent residents already in possession of a permanent resident card (green card)
  • any child of a U.S. citizen, if the child is under 21 years old, or who is a prospective adoptee seeking admission in category IR-4 or IH-4
  • any immigrant seeking to enter the U.S. on an immigrant visa as a physician, nurse, or other healthcare professional; to perform medical research or other research seeking to combat the spread of COVID-19; or to perform work essential to combating or help recovery from the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak, as determined by the U.S. Secretary of State or the Secretary of Homeland Security; as well as any spouses and unmarried children under 21 of any such immigrants
  • any alien seeking asylum, refugee status, withholding of removal, or protection under the Convention Against Torture
  • any alien applying for an immigrant visa pursuant to the EB-5 immigrant investor program
  • any alien who is the spouse of a U.S. citizen
  • any alien whose entry would further U.S. law enforcement objectives, based on a recommendation from the Attorney General
  • any member of the U.S. Armed Forces and their spouse and children
  • any alien seeking entry based on a special immigrant visa in the SI or SQ classification and their spouse and children
  • any other alien whose entry would be in the national interest of the U.S.

The decision as to whether an applicant who is outside of the U.S. qualifies for any of these exceptions rests with the U.S. consular officer abroad reviewing the visa application. 

At this time, this executive order does not apply to non-immigrant visas, such as H-1B high skilled worker visas, L-1 intracompany transferees, F-1 students, J-1 exchange visitors, TN visas, or other temporary visas, so individuals holding temporary visas can continue to enter the U.S. unless subject to other travel bans or restrictions.  However, the executive order directs the Secretary of Labor, Secretary of Homeland Security, and Secretary of State, to review and recommend to the president potential measures regarding nonimmigrant (temporary) visas that may be necessary to prioritize the hiring of U.S. workers.

The temporary suspension covered by this executive order will be in effect for 60 days, unless extended further by President Trump.  Please note that, as of March 20, 2020, U.S. Consulates all over the world suspended all visa interviews (except for emergency and special circumstances cases such as healthcare workers), in an attempt to practice social distancing and prevent the spread of COVID-19.  As of the date of this article, all U.S. Consulates remain closed for routine visa interviews.  Therefore, to the extent that the individuals negatively affected by the April 22nd executive order would customarily need a visa interview before traveling to the U.S., those visa interviews have already been suspended since March 20th.  Therefore, except for very limited circumstances, intending immigrants to the U.S. not already in possession of a valid immigrant visa will not be able to secure a visa interview as long as the consulate visa services remain closed, regardless of the President’s April 22nd executive order.   

We will continue to monitor the developments surrounding the President’s executive order suspending immigration to certain individuals and we will provide updates as applicable. In the meantime, if you have any questions regarding visas or immigration to the U.S., please contact Attorney Raluca (Luca) Vais-Ottosen at rvo@dewittllp.com or (608) 252-9291.

About the Author

Raluca Vais-Ottosen has assisted numerous clients with Immigration matters ranging from family-based and individual Immigration applications, to employment related visas and I-9 employment eligibility verification issues. In addition to her Immigration practice, she also has an extensive background in Employment Law. She assists companies in a number of areas, including but not limited to claims of workplace discrimination, harassment and retaliation, termination and constructive discharge, workplace investigations by State and Federal agencies, as well as Employment Litigation.

Contact Luca by email or by phone at (608) 252-9291.

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