President Trump signed an Executive Order (EO) today as shared by him previously yesterday, including the tweet that created confusion on suspending US Immigration. Most of the executive order is in-line with previous announcement on twitter, press release, with one addition to review non-immigrant visa programs. We will look at the entire Executive Order, why it is signed, summarize the key points, and look at impact for everyone, like current H1Bs, Adjustment of Status Applicants, H4, F1, etc.
Why Trump Signed Executive Order to Stop New Immigrants ?
The Executive Order (EO) talks about the impact of COVID-19 and how it has impacted American Labor market. The EO says that new green card holders/ immigrants once admitted have no restrictions for job market and will compete with everyone who have lost jobs with the pandemic. So far, 22 million Americans have lost jobs and unemployment rate is at historic levels. Check the adjacent chart by Washington Post on Unemployment that shows you the real impact of the unemployment with historic data. The EO says, new immigrants (GC holders) will increase the labor supply and can impact some disadvantaged groups like African Americans and other minorities without a degree. Considering all these, to protect American workers jobs and labor market, President has taken a decision with his power to pause new green card holders to enter US for 60 days.
Executive Order Impacted Individuals – New Green Card Holders
The EO clarifies that the impacted individuals are primarily all new immigrants or new Green Card Holders, who are outside of United States and planning to arrive in US on an Immigrant Visa ( basically new Green Card related visa). It says that it applies to anyone who do NOT have an immigrant visa( green card related) that is valid on the date of the signing of the Executive order…meaning, if you already have immigrant visa issued in past, it may not apply to you ( check with US Embassy for this to be sure). It also applies to any other green card holders, who do not have properly authorized travel document like advance parole, transportation letter, etc. These new green card holders cannot enter US for 60 days starting from April 23, 2020 11:59 PM.
You may watch the below video that covers the entire summary of this article.
Executive Order NOT Impacted Individuals – GCs in US, H1Bs, H4, L, F, etc.
The executive order clearly states the list of individuals, whom it will not have any impact. Below is the complete list of such individuals that are not impacted by the Trump Executive Order to pause new green card holders entry.
- Existing Green Card Holders in US (aka Lawful Permanent Residents)
- Any Physician, Nurse or healthcare workers trying to enter New GC / immigrant visa
- All EB-5 immigrant investor program Green Card Holders
- Anyone, who is spouse of US Citizen
- Anyone who is under 21 and child of US Citizen or applying for IR-4, IH-4 visas
- Members of US Armed Forces, their spouses and children
- Anyone who has attorney general recommendation based on US interests
- Special immigrant visa holders with SI or SQ, subject to State Dept conditions.
- Anyone whom they think are of US national interest
The above list is the exact list of exceptions as listed in the proclamation. As US has many non-immigrant Visas types, it will be hard to list every other visa in proclamation individually. Though they have not explicitly listed other visa types or forms, it is assumed that the below visa types and individuals will not fall under the Executive Order as they are not listed under the included section. See below table for complete summary.
|US Visa / Application|| Executive Order Impact – Suspension Applicable or NOT Applicable|
Below forms, visas were NOT explicitly listed in Trump Executive order, but assumed that these are excluded as they are not listed under applicable section of Executive order.
|H1B Visa Holder inside US||Not Applicable. Can work, apply for extensions, transfers, COS, respond to RFEs|
|H1B Visa Cap Applicant FY 2021||Not Applicable. Can apply for H1B cap subject petition.|
|H1B Visa applicant outside US||Not Applicable. Can Apply for US Visa stamping.|
|H4 Visa, H4 EAD holders in US||No applicable, can apply for extensions, COS|
|F1, OPT, STEM OPT holders in US||Not applicable, can apply for extensions, COS, OPT, STEM OPT|
|B1/B2 holders in US||Not applicable, can apply for extensions, COS.|
|L1A, L1B, L2, L2 EAD||Not Applicable. Can work, apply for extensions, COS.|
|USCIS forms like I-140, I-485 AOS, I-130, other forms. Responding to RFEs.||Not applicable. Can apply for them with USCIS, respond to RFEs. The EO explicitly tells immigrant visa holders outside of US and does not really say Adjustment of Status Applicants applying for Green Card within US|
|PERM Labor Certification DOL||Not applicable. Can continue PERM process.|
|Non-immigrant Visas seeking individuals at US Consulates outside of US for H1B, H4, L1, L2, B1, B2, F1, F2, etc.||Not applicable. Can apply for US visa stamping, if the consulate is taking appointments. Most of them are closed for visa stampings.|
Review of Non-immigrant Visa Programs by DOL, DHS/USCIS – Impact?
The executive order has a key point that instructs US Department of Labor and DHS/USCIS to review all nonimmigrant visa programs within 30 days from the EO signed day and recommend measures to stimulate US economy and hiring US Workers. see below screenshot.
It is too early to speculate, but this may have an impact on the work visa programs such as H1B, H4 EAD, L1, L2, etc. If the US Dept of Labor and USCIS recommends certain things like not issuing new H1B visas for anyone outside of US, it is a possibility to pause or suspend. President has the authority to restrict new temporary work visa holders to enter US. It is too early to speculate, but this is something that every non-immigrant needs to be aware and plan for backups as things may change in next 30 days.
If you are on H1B, H4, L2, F1 or any other Non-immigrants, Plan for backups.
In light of the “review non-immigrant programs” hint given in the proclamation, it is important for all non-immigrants inside US on H1B, L1, H4, L2, F1, B1/B2, etc. or anyone planning to arrive to US on these visas to think of all possible scenarios, talk to your employers, attorneys and plan for backups. If you are planning to travel outside of US now, reconsider your plans, talk to your employer or attorney.
President has the power to issue an EO to pause entering of Non-immigrants under regulation 8 USC 1182, if they think it is of national interest. So, it is a possibility. Not sure, how much impact anything would have for anyone living on a non-immigrant visa in US…
Not trying to create panic for everyone, but trying to be practical and let everyone be proactive. You may consider doing some of the below things depending on your situation.
- Apply for US Visa stamping, if available and get stamping done, arrive in US soon.
- If your status is expiring, apply for extensions or COS soon.
- If your work permits are expiring, apply for extensions soon.
- If you have lost job, talk to an attorney and plan on what to do.
- If your job is at risk, think of options to stay or leave.
- If you are eligible for filing Adjustment of Status(AOS), apply soon.
- Worst case, if you have to leave US, think of what do with your things, house, etc.
- Talk to your attorney and employer on your immigration situation and plan.
Many of the non-immigrants, who left US, are already stuck in home country as US Consulates are closed with COVID-19. Also, new non-immigrant visa seeking applicants also cannot do anything with consulates closed. These are unprecedented times, no one knows what can happen tomorrow. All we can do is be proactive and accept the reality. Stay positive and hope we all get over this pandemic soon…
What do you think of the Executive Order pausing New Green Card Holders ?
Reference : White House Proclamation Suspending Immigrants