I am writing to provide you with update on what started as a sensational Tweet two days ago – the plan to “suspend immigration” to the United States. We now know what the plan entails, and I am providing you with a short summary offering a bit more clarity and a way to plan for the days ahead.

The President’s Proclamation temporarily suspends certain types of immigration to the United States.

This order goes into effect at 11:59 PM ET on April 23, 2020 and is set to expire 60 days from its effective date and may be continued, as necessary.

Here is what you need to know:

  1. Most domestic immigration – H-1Bs, L-1s, Os, Ps and all other forms of nonimmigrant visas including, H-1B CAP filings are unaffected
  2. Change of Employment and Extensions of nonimmigrant status can continue without any disruption
  3. EAD cards are unaffected and extensions will continue to be processed
  4. Immigrant Petitions (I-130s and I-140s) and Applications to Adjust Status (I-485) may continue to be filed
  5. PERM and other Labor Certification processes are unchanged
  6. Anyone already granted an immigrant visa may travel to the U.S.
  7. Anyone possessing a valid travel document (Advance Parole) can reenter the U.S.

In other words, the Proclamation applies to an individual who is outside the United States on the effective date of the proclamation and,

  • Does not have a valid immigrant visa on the effective date; and
  • Does not have a valid official travel document (such as a transportation letter, boarding foil, or advance parole document) on the effective date, or issued on any date thereafter that permits travel to the United States to seek entry or admission.

In addition, the Proclamation specifically exempts:

  1. Green Card holders – Legal permanent residents (LPRs)
  2. Individuals and their spouses or children seeking to enter the U.S. on an immigrant visa as a physician, nurse, or other healthcare professional to perform work essential to combatting, recovering from, or otherwise alleviating the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak (as determined by the Secretaries of State and Department of Homeland Security (DHS), or their respective designees)
  3. Individuals applying for a visa to enter the U.S. pursuant to the EB-5 immigrant investor visa program
  4. Spouses of U.S. citizens
  5. Children of U.S. citizens under the age of 21 and prospective adoptees seeking to enter on an IR-4 or IH-4 visa
  6. Individuals who would further important U.S. law enforcement objectives (as determined by the Secretaries of DHS and State based on the recommendation of the Attorney General (AG), or their respective designees)
  7. Members of the U.S. Armed Forces and their spouses and children
  8. Individuals and their spouses or children eligible for Special Immigrant Visas as an Afghan or Iraqi translator/interpreter or U.S. Government Employee (SI or SQ classification)
  9. Individuals whose entry would be in the national interest (as determined by the Secretaries of State and DHS, or their respective designees).

Despite mostly encouraging news for businesses and nonimmigrants currently in the U.S., there is an implied threat lurking in the Proclamation. It requires the Secretaries of Labor and DHS, in consultation with the Secretary of State, to review nonimmigrant programs and recommend to the President other appropriate measures to stimulate the U.S. economy and ensure “the prioritization, hiring and employment” of U.S. workers within 30 days of the effective date.

However, for now, businesses can sigh with relief that on top of the COVID 19 emergency, they are not faced with an existential problem created by a suspension of all immigration to the United States.

We will continue to monitor the situation and provide you with any new developments as and when they occur.

Be well, stay safe!