On April 22nd, 2020, President Trump signed a new executive order or Presidential Proclamation that put new restrictions on green card immigration and certain visas. The goal of the order, as announced by the Trump Administration, is limiting the spread of the coronavirus across international borders. Although, critics of the order believe it is only being used to further restrict immigration, which has been a cornerstone of the presidency since it began.
Who are affected?
The Executive Order temporarily puts on hold the processing of Green Card applications from abroad. Specifically, Green Card applications based on employment (I-140) and possibly family (I-130/I-129F) will be delayed by 60 days, with the possibility to be extended.
Who are not affected?
1. Foreign nationals abroad with valid visas. This proposed Executive Order will not preclude foreign nationals from entering the US as B1/B2 visitors, F-1 students or temporary work visas such as H-1B, L-1, O-1, TN, etc. However, US Consulates around the world are closed indefinitely and will not issue any new visas.
2. Foreign nationals currently in the United States.This Executive Order will not affect foreign national workers currently in the United States and the processing of petitions such as H-1B, Adjustment of Status based on approved I-140, etc. on their behalf. The following immigrant/non-immigrant visa applications (not an exhausted list) are processed within normal processing time by the USCIS:
I-131, Application for permission to travel
I-485, Adjustment of Status petition
I-129, Temporary work visas including H-1B, L-1, O-1, E-2, etc.
I-140, Employment-based green card application for EB1, EB2, EB3
I-539, Change of status application to change or extend your status due to the Covid-19 lockdown policy or employer layoffs.
Other Effects of this Executive Order
1. More restrictions. An extension of current restrictions could be in place after the 60 days and possible new restrictions on employment visas such as H-1B, L-1, etc. might take place in the near future.
2. More denials. USCIS officers may start using more strict scrutiny in reviewing immigration applications and we may see a spike of case denial rate.
3. More delays. Within the Unites States, due to the lockdown and USCIS local office closures, all biometrics appointments and green card interviews are delayed. Outside of the United States, it is safe to assume that more visa applications will be put through administrative processing once the Consulates reopen.
Where Can You Get Legal Help?
With the executive order adding new restrictions to immigration into the United States, it is more important than ever to understand immigration laws. Please contact our office immediately if:
1. You were recently laid off and not sure how to maintain a legal status within the US;
2. You were recently picked up in the H-1B lottery but your potential employer rescinded the job offer;
3. You are planning to get married to a US Citizen or a green card holder; or
4. You are stuck in the United States in B1/B2 visa due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
In San Francisco, immigrants from all walks of life can rely on The Law Office Of Zhang for help with any immigration procedure. We are always staying up-to-speed on immigration law changes, which have been quite frequent during the Trump Administration. To make our experience and insight your benefit for the unprecedented times ahead, call (415) 761-2732 to book a consultation with our immigration lawyer, or fill out a contact form here to present your case to our legal team!