White House Proclamation Regarding Immigration

Summary provided by McCandlish Holton, PC Immigration Practice Group

On April 22, 2020, the White House issued a “Proclamation” suspending travel to the US by individuals who will seek entry to the United States using an “immigrant visa” (which is a visa issued to individuals entering the US to become permanent residents).  The “Proclamation” is below:

The Proclamation has almost no impact on individuals currently inside the United States:

  • It does not revoke or otherwise limit temporary work visas such as H-1B, TN, L-1, O-1 or other temporary visa categories including F-1 students attending school in the US or using OPT or CPT .
  • It does not prevent or limit processing of work visas such as H-1B, TN, L-1, O-1 or other temporary work visa categories.  The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (US CIS) is still processing new petitions in all categories, as well as extensions, transfers, or other actions.
  • It does not revoke or otherwise limit green cards already issued to individuals inside the US.
  • It does not prevent or limit processing of green card applications by individuals inside the US.  The US Department of Labor and the US CIS are still processing green card applications in all categories.
    • For individuals who have not yet commenced the green card process in the US, you can proceed with your green card process.
    • For individuals who are preparing or who have filed PERM applications with the US Department of Labor, this process will continue.
    • For individuals who are preparing or who have filed I-140 (employment-based immigrant petitions) or I-130 (family-based immigrant petitions) with the US CIS, those petitions will continue to be processed.  
    • For individuals who are preparing I-485 applications to adjust status in the US, you should continue to prepare and file your applications.  
    • For individuals who have already filed I-485 applications to adjust status, those applications will continue to be processed, including applications for Employment Authorization Documents and Advance Parole. 

The “Proclamation” only affects individuals seeking entry to the United States using an immigrant visa for the next 60 days (with possible extensions thereafter).  Importantly, individuals who already have an immigrant visa stamp in their passport are exempted from this Proclamation.  The Proclamation includes a number of other exceptions, and allows continued travel using immigrant visas by the following groups of individuals:

  1. Lawful permanent residents (LPR) 
  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). 

In short, the Proclamation has little impact on individuals who are inside the US.  It applies to only a narrow group of individuals who are outside the US and who will apply for entry to the US using “immigrant visa” stamps that they do not yet have (and would not receive in any event, because embassies are not processing any visas at the present time).