Alerts and Updates

President Signs Proclamation to Temporarily Suspend Entry of Certain Immigrants in Reaction to the COVID-19 Pandemic

April 24, 2020

The proclamation temporarily suspends entry of certain individuals seeking to enter for the first time as immigrants.

On April 22, 2020, President Trump signed a proclamation that temporarily suspends entry to the United States of certain immigrants for an initial period of 60 days, effective on Thursday, April 23, 2020, at 11:59 p.m. Eastern, that applies only to individuals who are outside the United States on its effective date. The stated rationale was to protect U.S. workers. Trump said that the order would "help put unemployed Americans first in line for jobs as America reopens."

"It would be wrong and unjust for Americans laid off by the virus to be released with new immigrant labor flown in from abroad," he said. "We must first take care of the American worker."

To Whom Does the Suspension Apply?

The proclamation temporarily suspends entry of certain individuals seeking to enter for the first time as immigrants (green card holders) with some exemptions listed below.

The proclamation applies to individuals who do not have a valid immigrant visa and who do not have a valid official travel document (such as a transportation letter, boarding foil or advance parole document) on the effective date.

Who Is Exempt from the Immigration Suspension?

The following individuals, as determined in the discretion of consular officers, the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Homeland Security, are exempt:

  • U.S. lawful permanent residents (i.e., green card holders);
  • 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 Homeland Security, or their respective designees);
  • Individuals applying for a visa to enter the U.S. pursuant to the EB-5 immigrant investor visa program;
  • Spouses of U.S. citizens;
  • Children of U.S. citizens under the age of 21 and prospective adoptees seeking to enter on an immigrant visa;
  • Individuals who would further advance U.S. law enforcement objectives (as determined by the Secretaries of Homeland Security and State based on the recommendation of the attorney general, or their respective designees);
  • Members of the U.S. armed forces and their spouses and children;
  • Individuals and their spouses or children eligible for Special Immigrant Visas as an Afghan or Iraqi translator/interpreter or U.S. government employee;
  • Individuals whose entry would be in the national interest (as determined by the Secretaries of State and Homeland Security, or their respective designees).

Are Individuals Seeking Entry into the United States on Temporary Nonimmigrant Work Visas Affected?

No. However, the proclamation requires that within 30 days of the effective date, the Secretaries of Labor and Homeland Security, in consultation with the Secretary of State, shall 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.

Are Individuals Applying for Adjustment of Status (Form I-485) in the U.S. Affected?

No, this does not affect green card applicants in the U.S.

Are Individuals Seeking Asylum or Refugee Status Affected?

No. The proclamation does not limit the right to individuals seeking asylum, refugee status, withholding of removal or protection under the Convention Against Torture.

When Does the Suspension Expire?

The proclamation is valid for 60 days from its effective date, or until June 22, 2020. It may be extended, and within 50 days from the effective date, the Secretary of Homeland Security shall, in consultation with the Secretaries of State and Labor, recommend whether the president should continue or modify the proclamation.

About Duane Morris

Duane Morris has created a COVID-19 Strategy Team to help organizations plan, respond to and address this fast-moving situation. Contact your Duane Morris attorney for more information. Prior Alerts on the topic are available on the team’s webpage.

For More Information

If you have any questions about this Alert, please contact any of the attorneys in the Immigration Law Group, any member of the COVID-19 Strategy Team or the attorney in the firm with whom you are regularly in contact.

Disclaimer: This Alert has been prepared and published for informational purposes only and is not offered, nor should be construed, as legal advice. For more information, please see the firm's full disclaimer.