Since President Trump was elected in 2016, the administration has worked steadily to increase restrictions on immigration. Legislators have now used the COVID-19 pandemic as a reason to substantially tighten these restrictions, even though experts point out both the necessity of bolstering the workforce and the futility of closing borders.
The latest of these restrictions is an executive order, signed by the President on April 22nd. It bans most family-based and employment-based immigration for 60 days (between April 23rd and June 21st). At the end of this period, the administration may extend the ban, but they have not yet indicated what they will decide—or what could influence their decision.
Luckily, many people will be able to continue with their visa applications as normal, even during the 60-day ban. This is because the executive order lists several types of applicants who are exempt from the ban. The following is an overview of who may still enter the U.S. and obtain visas at this time.
Nonimmigrant Visa Applicants
If you’re applying for a nonimmigrant (temporary) visa, the ban will not affect your case. The administration has mentioned it may extend the ban to nonimmigrants at the 30-day mark, but, for the time being, the ban only affects those seeking permanent residency in the U.S.
Certain Immigrants Who Advance National Interests
If the Secretaries of State and DHS believe your immigration is beneficial to the U.S., you may be exempt from the ban.
For example, you may be exempt if you are:
- A medical researcher, physician, nurse, or any other professional (and their spouse/children) who is working to mitigate the spread or effects of the pandemic
- A U.S. government employee or Afghan/Iraqi translator (and their spouse/children), thereby eligible for a Special Immigrant visa
- A prospective immigrant who is investing a substantial amount of capital into a U.S. commercial enterprise, thereby eligible for an EB-5 visa
- A prospective immigrant who is furthering U.S. law enforcement objectives
Applicants with Pending Cases in the U.S.
If USCIS is already reviewing your permanent residency application, the ban should not interfere with your case. Furthermore, the executive order only inhibits prospective immigrants who are applying for a visa from outside the United States. Adjustment-of-status applications are safe from the effects of the ban because the entire process occurs from within the U.S.
So long as you meet all other requirements, you should be able to obtain a green card if you were already in the U.S. at 11:59 PM EDT on April 23rd, or if you were outside the U.S. but had travel authorization.
Certain Family Members of U.S. Citizens
While the ban prevents lawful permanent residents from sponsoring their family members until June 21st, U.S. citizens can still sponsor their spouses, children under 21, and prospective adoptees via the IR-4 and IH-4 visas.
U.S. Armed Forces and Certain Family Members
If you, your spouse, or your parent are a member of the U.S. Armed Forces, you are most likely exempt from the ban.
Bring Your Questions and Concerns to Rodriguez Law Office
The immigration system is changing rapidly, especially in the midst of COVID-19. If you need help navigating this fluctuating legal terrain, the Rodriguez Law Office is here to serve you. We have years of experience helping clients accomplish their immigration goals, and we are fully prepared to stand by your side as you overcome new challenges such as the 60-day immigration ban.
Call (888) 240-7297 or fill out our online contact form for dedicated legal support today.