New Immigration Restrictions to US – Good News and Bad News

On April 20, 2020, President Trump tweeted that new restrictions on immigration to the United States shortly would be imposed due to the Covid19 pandemic. This announcement created panic for hundreds of thousands of would be immigrants to the US. On April 22 Trump signed an Executive Order limiting immigration to the US for the next sixty days. While these restrictions continue the Trump Administration’s tightening of access to US shores, the new changes are not as draconian as feared. There are numerous exceptions to the limitations.

Our Advocate will explain what the new immigration restrictions mean for aspiring immigrants to the US.

Who is not subject to new immigration restrictions?

Any potential immigrant already in the United States applying for a green card within the country will not be affected by the changes. Thus, spouses and children of US citizens and green card holders currently residing in the US and applying for a green card are exempt from the new restrictions. The same is also true for alien workers in the US who are applying for a green card.

The new immigration restrictions do not apply to those seeking non-immigrant visas to the US; for example, tourists, students, business and investment visas. However, US embassies and consulates around the world are essentially closed at this time due to the pandemic. Thus, very few visas, if any, are being issued anywhere. A more ominous provision in the Executive Order requires the US government to review potential restrictions on non-immigrant visas. Within the next thirty days, a list of recommended changes that ensure the priority and hiring of US workers must produced. This could mean more restrictions are coming that would affect non-immigrant visas.

Restrictions on Green Card seekers outside the US

The biggest impact of the new order is the limitation on immigrant visas (green cards) throughout US embassies in the world. For those to whom the restrictions apply, no new immigrant visas will be issued in US embassies for the next sixty days. However, again, there are many exceptions. The following groups of people are exempt from the changes:

  1. Spouses and minor children of US citizens.
  2. Those who already have valid immigrant visas.
  3. Current green card holders.
  4. Medical personnel.
  5. EB-5 investors.
  6. US military personnel and their families.
  7. Certain special immigrant visas.
  8. 8 Anyone determined to be in the national interest of the United States.

To whom do the restrictions apply?

Family members of US citizens, such as adult children, parents and siblings, will not be eligible to receive an immigrant visa during the next sixty days. Similarly, no family members of green card holders will be eligible. To reiterate, if the above family members reside in the United States and apply for a green card within, then the restrictions do not apply.

In addition, those chosen to receive a green card through the diversity visa program (visa lottery) also will not be able to obtain an immigrant visa. This category is possibly the most seriously affected; according to the program’s law, the chosen winners of the lottery program must have a valid immigrant visa by September 30, 2020. If they are unable to obtain the immigrant visa by that date, they completely lose their eligibility to obtain one as a result of winning the previous year’s lottery.

In summary, as US embassies around the world are currently closed, the new immigration restrictions should not change much. The restrictions are only applicable for the next sixty days. Of course, the concern is whether these changes are extended by a subsequent Executive Order or additional orders are issued which broaden the restrictions.

Contact us

In conclusion, given the fact that US embassies are currently closed worldwide, the new changes should not change much of the current reality. The restrictions currently only apply for the next 60 days. Contact our office if you have any questions about the new restrictions on immigration to the US.

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