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New Executive Order Bans Immigration During Coronavirus Pandemic

Immigration into the United States has once again become more difficult under the Trump Administration due to a newly signed executive order. On April 23rd, Trump signed an executive order to prevent many people outside of the country from entering to obtain permanent residency or a green card for the next 60 days at least. According to a press release from the administration, the order is an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

People who are affected by the executive order are anyone who:

  • Are not already within the country on April 23rd, 2020;
  • Do not have a valid immigration visa; and
  • Do not have any other form of valid immigration documentation.

The broadly sweeping order essentially stops anyone knew from trying to lawfully enter the country from getting a new green card, either through employment or close relations with a family member already in America. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) was already facing unprecedented processing delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic before the order was given. It can only be assumed that the order will compound processing delays further.

Exemptions to the COVID-19 Immigration Ban

The executive order – technically called a Presidential Proclamation in this case – was not issued without its exceptions, though. Perhaps in an effort to avoid more criticism over the administration’s handling of immigration issues in the past, the order lists several immigration groups and classes who can still seek a green card despite the new limitations.

People who can still file for a family- or employment-based green card include:

  • Anyone who is already a lawful permanent resident or green cardholder.
  • Legal spouses of U.S. citizens.
  • Dependents and children younger than 21 whose parents or prospective parents are U.S. citizens.
  • Professionals who work in an “essential business” or any industry actively working to stop the coronavirus, such as medical professionals.
  • Foreign investors with legitimate and important business within the U.S. or who are seeking to invest in a new company.
  • People that the Department of Homeland Security deems “beneficial” to the wellbeing of the United States if permitted to enter.

Furthermore, the new limitations do not make any mention of restricting immigrants in emergency situations, such as people seeking asylum. It is only meant to limit green card entries, regardless of an immigrant’s home country. The USCIS and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) did warn that they had been authorized to expedite the deportation of anyone who violates this executive order.

Will the Order Only Last 60 Days?

At the time the executive order was issued, it was reported to only last 60 days – but there is a significant caveat. At the end of the 60-day issuance, the restrictions will be reviewed and either removed or extended. In a statement to the press, Trump had implied that he had the discretion to extend it longer than another 60 days at that time, making it unclear what to expect in June when the proclamation was originally slated to end. It might be safe to assume that as long as shelter-in-place orders are being used in states across the country, the Trump Administration will be keeping the executive order active, too.

You can find additional information about the new immigration ban by clicking here and visiting a full article from CNN Politics. If you or a family member needs help understanding immigration laws and rights due to changes made by the restrictive executive order and you live in Texas, Avalos & Associates, P.C. in Richmond can help you. Our immigration attorneys are still accepting new cases and working with preexisting clients through remote, electronic means during the coronavirus pandemic.