On April 23rd, 2020 President Donald Trump signed an executive order that temporarily suspended the approval of green card requests. This was originally addressed to immigrants abroad seeking U.S. residency. But now the Trump administration has added green card applicants already living in the USA to the list.
The proclamation will affect:
- Spouses and minor children (under 21) of green card holders (lawful permanent residents) filing from outside the United States (“consular processing”)
- Parents, siblings, and adult children (21 years and older) of U.S. citizens filing from outside the United States.
- All employment-based green cards except the immigrant investors (EB-5)
- Diversity Visas
- Any green card applicant filing from within the United States (“adjustment of status“)
The proclamation will not affect:
- Spouses or minor children (under 21) of U.S. citizens
- Special Immigrant Visas
- Temporary visas (H1-B visas, student visas, etc.
Why is Trump doing this?
The president says he is seeking to protect American jobs after more than 20 million Americans have lost their jobs amid the pandemic.
The president has said the government had a “solemn duty” to ensure they regain work.President Donald Trump
“General Hold” will remain in effect
USCIS recently told its employees that a “general hold” on permanent residency applications filed from immigrants within the United States will remain in effect. But USCIS’s updated list of exemptions to the hold is not so clear as to when it was originally put into effect.
Exemptions to the hold will include applications from medical providers, allowing immigration officers to submit applications related to emergent or sensitive matters. Any other matter will be reviewed by their supervisor.
Also, since the suspension of in-person services, the processing of green cards has definitely been impacted by either slowing down applications or coming to a complete halt. Furthermore, their plans to continue naturalization ceremonies have also come to a halt.
USCIS said, “We’re conducting emergent adjustment of status interviews and cases related to fighting COVID-19 and will begin to resume other in-person services in the future.”USCIS
Recently USCIS acknowledged they received guidance on the hold which had ties to President Trump. The material was posted on an internal webpage pertaining to Donald Trump’s executive order which suspended the most entries from immigrants abroad. But later USCIS said it contained incorrect information and has since been taken down.
“The dates in the post and the reference to the executive order were incorrect,” the agency said. “This post has been removed and does not reflect current adjudication guidance.”USCIS
What’s going to happen to USCIS ?
According to the AFGE Local 1924, 70 percent of the agency’s workforce is expected to be laid off if Congress refuses to provide the USCIS its requested $1.2 billion emergency fund. The funds were requested due to a lack of applications being processed during the pandemic. Notices of temporary layoffs due to the coronavirus are expected to go out as early as next week.
Will this effect employers?
Employers shouldn’t stress on any additional disruption to their foreign employee workforces due to this Proclamation because the operations have already been disrupted. In fact, the State Department had already suspended visa processing services at all US Consulates and US embassies outside of the US, including green cards, so this Proclamation was unnecessary.
Furthermore, Most companies are well-advised to file their employee’s visa extensions far in advance with USCIS to maximize their legal status and work authorization in the event of administrative disruption such as this. In fact, most extensions can be filed up to six months in advance giving them an automatic 240-day extension as soon as it’s filed. This allows their employees to continue working while the extension is being processed.
How long will the hold be in effect?
As of now, the order is in effect since April 23 and the Trump administration said they would reassess after 50 days whether or not they would continue the hold.
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