Today, President Trump signed an executive order that will temporarily halt the issuance of immigrant visas to individuals outside the United States. The order goes into effect at 11:59 p.m. on April 23, 2020 and will be in effect for 60 days.
Immigrant visas are permanent residence visas issued to individuals who are outside of the United States when they apply for permanent residence. The order is very limited in its scope and only appears to halt the consular processing of immigrant visas. It does not appear to limit the approval of adjustment of status applications for individuals who are currently in the U.S. and in the green card process. The order only applies to those who are outside the U.S. and do not currently have a valid immigrant visa or other valid travel document.
There are several exceptions to the suspension of issuance of immigrant visas including:
- any lawful permanent resident of the United States;
- anyone seeking to enter the United States on an immigrant visa as a physician, nurse, or other healthcare professional; to perform medical research or other research intended to combat the spread of COVID-19; or to perform work essential to combating, recovering from, or otherwise alleviating the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak, as determined by the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Homeland Security, or their respective designees; and any spouse and unmarried children under 21 years old or any such person who are accompanying or following to join the person;
- any person applying for a visa to enter the United States pursuant to the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program;
- any person who is the spouse of a U.S. citizen;
- any person who is under 21 years old and is the child of a United States citizen, or who is a prospective adoptee seeking to enter the United States pursuant to the IR-4 or IH-4 visa classifications;
- any person whose entry would further important U.S. law enforcement objectives, as determined by the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Homeland Security, or their respective designees, based on a recommendation of the Attorney General or his designee;
- any member of the United States Armed Forces and any spouse and children of a member of the United States Armed Forces;
- any person seeking to enter the United States pursuant to a Special Immigrant Visa in the SI or SQ classification, subject to such conditions as the Secretary of State may impose, and any spouse and children of any such individual; or
- any person whose entry would be in the national interest, as determined by the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Homeland Security, or their respective designees.
The order directs the Secretary of State and the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security to advise the President on whether this order should be extended no later than 50 days from now. Further, they are directed to make other recommendations that the President can take on immigration to help protect U.S. workers.
For the time being, this order will largely not impact the clients of Graham Adair. If you are going through the consular process for your immigrant visa, this will likely mean a delay in the issuance of the visa. You should check in with your attorney at Graham Adair for further specifics on your situation.