To mitigate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, governments on the local, state, and federal levels have signed emergency orders affecting nearly every aspect of our lives. From social distancing guidelines to nationwide business shutdowns, many of the policies have helped flatten the curve and prevent avoidable deaths.
Some orders, however, have been more controversial. The immigration system has largely ground to a halt, even though immigrants comprise a significant portion of professionals who are critical in the fight against COVID-19: physicians, nurses, researchers, food manufacturers, and more. Furthermore, travel bans have never been proven to inhibit the spread of pandemics.
In a time where we need as many professionals and experts as possible, the U.S. is suspending routine and in-person services, halting premium processing, and closing borders. If you are hoping to immigrate to the U.S. as soon as possible, retaining professional legal support is now more important than ever before.
What Is the 60-Day Ban?
In one of the most sweeping policies to date, President Trump signed an executive order on April 22nd that heavily restricts immigration for 60 days, effective at 11:59 PM EDT on April 23rd. At the end of the 60 days, the President will decide whether or not to extend the ban.
Fortunately, the order only affects a very specific group of people. The ban may prevent you from obtaining a green card if, when the ban took effect, you:
- Were outside of the U.S.; and
- Did not have a valid green card and travel document.
The ban will NOT affect your case if you are:
- A lawful permanent resident
- A nonimmigrant (or applicant for a nonimmigrant visa)
- An asylum seeker
- An applicant for the immigrant investor program (EB-5 visas)
- An individual whose stay in the U.S. advances national interests or law enforcement objectives
- An individual deemed essential in combating COVID-19 (e.g. physicians, nurses, medical researchers, etc.)
- An individual who is eligible for a Special Immigrant Visa as a U.S. government employee or Afghan/Iraqi translator
- A member of the U.S. Armed Forces
- The spouse or child of #6-8
- The spouse, child under 21, or prospective adoptee of a U.S. citizen
What to Do if the 60-Day Ban Affects Your Case
Ultimately, the adjudicating officers can use their discretion to determine whether you are exempt from the ban via any of the above categories. If the ban does apply to you, the Law Offices of Shamieh, Shamieh & Ternieden is here to address your concerns and help you navigate unexpected delays in your case. If your green card application is denied because of this executive order, we may be able to file a successful appeal.