The President’s latest executive order, which goes into effect today (April 23, 2020 at midnight), does much less than ban all immigration into the United States. The order applies only to people who are applying for certain immigrant visas from overseas. However, there are still many families who will be affected by it, and the impact on them should not be minimized.
The order will mainly affect the following immigrant visa applicants who were expecting to be interviewed at the embassy and receive immigrant visas in the next 60 days:
- Parents of U.S. citizens
- Married children of US citizens
- Brothers or sisters of US citizens
- Wives or husbands of US greencard holders
- Children of US greencard holders
- Employment-based immigrant visa applicants
Because visa interviews are currently halted in all embassies due to the coronavirus pandemic anyway, the immediate effect of this proclamation is limited. In addition, there is no indication yet that the National Visa Center will cease to process paperwork for such visas. If you fall in any of the affected categories, you should continue to submit all required documentation until and unless specific directions come that such paperwork will not be accepted. It is also likely that this proclamation will be challenged in courts and its implementation will be halted.
In addition, there are many exceptions to the proclamation. If you are in any of the following situations, the order DOES NOT apply to you:
- You are in the United States and applying for a greencard for any reason
- You are already a greencard holder but happen to be traveling outside of the United States
- You already have an immigrant visa to the United States but have not yet entered the country
- You are applying for asylum or refugee status
- You are applying for a nonimmigrant temporary visa to the United States
- You are applying for an immigrant visa as the husband or wife of a US citizen
- You are applying for an immigrant visa as a biological or adopted child of a US citizen
- You are applying for an immigrant visa as a healthcare worker
- You are applying for an immigrant visa based on the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program
- You are for applying for an immigrant visa as a Special Immigrant Visa applicant
- You are a member of the US Armed Forces or the spouse or child of such a member
- Your entry is considered to be in the national interest
Although this administration’s latest attack on the immigration system does not affect most visa applicants, this is only the latest sign that this President will do whatever he can in this election year to deflect attention from his massive failures. He will continue to attack the immigration system and continue to make it more and more difficult for hardworking families to be together.
If you have been waiting to file your application for status in the United States, now is not the time to delay figuring out your options. Remain optimistic. We are fighting hard to unite families, and will not give up despite this administration’s attempts to sow fear.