President Trump signed an executive order, the “Proclamation Suspending Entry of Immigrants Who Present Risk to the U.S. Labor Market During the Economic Recovery Following the COVID-19 Outbreak,” to pause issuance of new immigrant visas to applicants who are outside the United States for 60 days.  The order, which takes effect at 11:59 pm Eastern daylight time on April 23, 2020, is limited in its current scope, as it only affects individuals who are outside the United States and do not have a valid visa.

As reported in our post yesterday, the order thus does not currently impact temporary workers, such as H-1B specialty occupation workers, L-1 intra-company executives and specialized knowledge transferees from overseas, treaty visa holders including NAFTA entrants, O-1 extraordinary ability aliens, and F-1 students. Nine categories of aliens also are exempt from the order’s suspension and limitations on entry:

  1. lawful permanent residents;
  2. health care workers, medical research personnel, and other workers deemed essential to combat the spread of COVID-19, and their accompanying spouse and children, seeking to enter on immigrant visas;
  3. EB-5 immigrant investor visa candidates;
  4. spouses of US citizens;
  5. children under 21, including prospective adoptees, of US citizens;
  6. individuals whose work is deemed to further law enforcement objectives;
  7. US military personnel and their spouse and children;
  8. certain holders of Special Immigrant Visas and their spouse and children; and
  9. individuals whose work is deemed to further national security interests.

In addition, the order allows applications for asylum, refugee status, withholding of deportation, or other relief under the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, to continue without limitation.

The president may extend the order beyond the 60 days, which the Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Secretary of State and Secretary of Labor, is expected to advise upon no later than 10 days before its expiration.  In addition, the order requires the Secretary of Labor and the Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Secretary of State, to review nonimmigrant programs within 30 days, and recommend “other measures appropriate to stimulate the United States economy and ensure the prioritization, hiring, and employment of United States workers.”

The president, who first tweeted about the order Monday night, said the order “will ensure that unemployed Americans of all backgrounds will be first in line for jobs as our economy reopens.”

Other ongoing travel restrictions, stemming both from COVID-19 and summarized in Mayer Brown’s Global Travel Navigator, and from Travel Ban 4.0, remain in effect.