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Immigration Alert: How the Executive Order suspending immigration impacts sponsored workers

On April 22, 2020, President Trump signed an Executive Order temporarily suspending the entry of certain immigrants into the United States. The Executive Order only affects foreign nationals who are currently outside the United States applying for permanent residence through the immigrant visa process at a U.S. consular post. Initially, the Executive Order will be in effect for 60 days, unless the administration determines that it should be extended.

Notably, the Executive Order does not impact sponsored workers who are currently in the United States pursuant to valid non-immigrant status, such as H-1B, L-1, TN, E-3, etc. These sponsored workers are still eligible to extend their non-immigrant status, file a PERM labor certification application or I-140 immigrant petition, and apply for adjustment of status within the United States. While the COVID-19 pandemic has created some issues for sponsored workers, particularly related to travel and delayed processing times, this Executive Order will not change or impact their non-immigrant status.

For foreign nationals who are currently outside the United States, the Executive Order carves out certain exceptions to the suspension of immigrant visa processing. Given the current need for healthcare providers, the U.S. Department of State will continue to process immigrant visas for physicians, nurses, or other allied healthcare professionals to perform medical research or work essential to combat COVID-19, as well as their spouses and unmarried children under 21 years old. Other exceptions also include, but are not limited to, foreign nationals who are applying for an immigrant visa through EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program; are the spouse of a U.S. citizen; or are under 21 years old and the child of a U.S. citizen. U.S. consular officers will have the discretion to determine whether an applicant has proven that he or she qualifies for one of the exceptions above. Additionally, the suspension and limitation does not preclude individuals from seeking asylum, refugee status, withholding of removal, or protection under the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment consistent with the laws of the United States.

Please note that the current situation is very fluid and subject to change at any time. In particular, the Executive Order indicates that within 30 days, the Trump Administration will review nonimmigrant programs to determine whether any additional action should be taken to stimulate the U.S. economy and prioritize U.S. workers. We are closely monitoring COVID-19 immigration issues and will provide further updates as they are available.


Vinh Duong
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Nora Katz
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