On Wednesday, April 22, 2020, President Donald Trump signed an executive order suspending some Green Card applications and immigration overall. The order limits immigration into the United States as a necessary step to reduce pressure on the US labor market, considering the number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits.

Immigration and Trump

President Trump said, “This order will ensure that unemployed Americans of all backgrounds will be first in line for jobs as our economy reopens…Crucially, we’ll also preserve our health care resources for American patients. We have to take care of our patients, we have to take care of our great American workers. And that’s what we’re doing.”

The executive order is effective as of April 23, 2020, 11.59 PM (ET). The order suspends the entry of any individual seeking to enter the US as an immigrant who

  • is outside the US on April 23, 2020
  • does not have a valid immigrant visa on April 23, 2020, and
  • does not have an official travel document other than a visa (such as a transportation letter, an appropriate boarding foil, or an advance parole document) on the effective date or issued on any date thereafter.

Immigrants exempt from the order

Certain immigrants are exempted from this order. Some of the immigrants exempted are

  • Individuals applying for a green card from within the US – [adjustment of status]
  • Physicians, nurses and other healthcare professionals (and their spouses and children) if they are coming to the US “to perform medical research or other research intended to combat the spread of COVID-19; or to perform work essential to combating, recovering from, or otherwise alleviating the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak, as determined by the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Homeland Security, or their respective designees”
  • Individuals applying for an [EB-5 or Immigrant Investor Visa]
  • Spouse and children, below the age of 21, of US citizens [applying for green cards]
  • Individuals applying for temporary visas – [B-2 Visitor Visa], [F-1 Students], [H-1B visas] and other [temporary workers]
  • Any alien whose entry would further important the United States law enforcement objectives, as determined by the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Homeland Security, or their respective designees, based on a recommendation of the Attorney General or his designee
  • Any member of the US Armed Forces and their spouse and children
  • Certain Special Immigrants – Iraqi nationals who worked for or on behalf of the U.S. government in Iraq or Afghan nationals who worked for or on behalf of the U.S. government or the International Security Assistance Force and their spouses and children; and
  • Any alien whose entry would be in the national interest, as determined by the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Homeland Security, or their respective designees.

The executive order does not affect persons 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.

Immigrants affected by the executive order

  • Spouse and children, under the age of 21, of green card holders filing from outside the US
  • Parents, siblings and adult children of US citizens filing from outside the US

Duration for which the executive order will be in effect

The executive order will remain in effect for a minimum of 60 days. There will be a reassessment to decide whether to extend and/or expand the ban.