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April 22 2020

Trump’s Green Card Ban

In a tweet late Monday night, President Trump announced that he would sign an executive order suspending immigration into the United States.  While this seemed to be an expansive ban, his order appears to be only for 60 days (with possible extension).  There are few details and this seems to be a work in progress.  As of today, it appears the new ban will not apply to:

  • Temporary work visas (E-2 investors, L-1 intracompany transferees, B-2 tourists)
  • Spouses and children of U.S. citizens
  • Healthcare workers
  • Food agriculture workers
  • Other essential workers

There are already COVID-19 bans on travel from China, Iran, the European Schengen Area, the United Kingdom and Ireland, as well as restrictions on nonessential travel through the U.S.-Canada and U.S.-Mexico land borders.  Most visa services at U.S. consulates in many countries have been suspended since mid-March, as have in-person services at USCIS local offices and Application Support Centers.  Thus, a short ban would only really be a political statement and not have much real impact for most in the immigration process.

The executive order may add further requirements for H-1B (professional) visas,   possibly including an attestation that foreign workers are not displacing U.S. workers.  This probably would not be legal without new regulations, and as H-1Bs are non-immigrant visas, they are not subject to ban.

At this point, we do not know if this ban will apply to people in the U.S. seeking adjustment of status as opposed to people outside the U.S. seeking an immigrant visa.

If this is similar to the Iran and other travel bans, one can still sponsor an employee, and when applicable, a person can file their own green card petitions to start the immigration process.  And since green card applications often take a year or two (or more) to process, cases presumably can still move forward – at least the green card petition part (Form I-140, I-526, and I-360).

Hopefully Trump will be out of office in 9 months and this will be history.

As I learn more I will let you know.  Stay healthy and safe.