President Trump Pledges Temporary Suspension of Immigration into the US

Donald Trump has promised to suspend all immigration to the US to protect American workers.

On April 21, 2020, President Trump posted on Twitter: “In light of the attack from the Invisible Enemy, as well as the need to protect the jobs of our GREAT American Citizens, I will be signing an Executive Order to temporarily suspend immigration into the United States!”

A Trump campaign statement on April 21, 2020 said the measure served two functions – to prevent competition for jobs that could add to queues for unemployment benefits and depress wages, and to stop imported infections.

Detail awaited

There has been no further, official detail on the Executive Order as to the scope, timing, or duration of the suspension, meaning it is not immediately clear who could be affected by Mr Trump’s announcement or when such a move could come into force.

From the tweet, it can be inferred that Trump intends to effectively suspend US visas for those individuals applying from outside of the US. In this case, visa stamping at consulates overseas would, for example, be affected.

It is not yet known if or how the Order will affect immigrant and nonimmigrant visa issuance, foreign national entry into the US, or immigration benefits processing within the US.

It also not known if exemptions or waivers will apply for workers in key sectors such as agriculture and healthcare.

We expect, however, that current work visa status and green card processing would not be affected.

The Order would be the latest in a series of COVID-19 US immigration measures including restrictions on nonessential travel between the US and Mexico and Canada respectively until at least mid-May, and a ban on travel from Schengen countries, Ireland and the UK, although people with temporary work visas, students and business travellers are exempted.

Legality

It remains to be seen if the Order can be carried out, or whether it will be subject to legal challenge, as a number of Trump’s immigration measures have been.

The question also remains whether the tweet was merely an opportunistic move by Trump to be seen to be progressing with his tough anti-immigration agenda ahead of the November election. This could be plausible in light of recent White House statements that the worst of the pandemic was over and the country could begin reopening.

In any case, we await further details on the measure and its impact on US immigration application processing and travel.

US immigration advice

We continue to monitor the position closely and are on hand to advise if you are concerned about the developments and effects on US applications or status for you, your family members or employees.

As the situation continues to develop, please contact our US immigration specialists for the latest advice for your specific circumstances.

Last updated: April 22, 2020