Trump to Temporarily Halt Immigration During Corona virus pandemic | Impact on H1B, L1 and Other Work Visas

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Mandatory Credit: Photo by Evan Vucci/AP/Shutterstock (10588345az) President Donald Trump speaks during press briefing with the coronavirus task force, at the White House, in Washington. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn, at left, and Dr. Deborah Birx, White House coronavirus response coordinator, at right listen Virus Outbreak Trump, Washington, United States - 19 Mar 2020

Trump tweeted Monday night that he will issue an executive order but gave few details of when — or what it would entail.

President Donald Trump said late Monday evening he intends to sign an executive order to temporarily suspend immigration into the United States in “light of the attack” from the coronavirus pandemic.

It’s unclear how far-reaching the order will be, when it will be signed or which countries it will apply to, but it comes as the president repeatedly defended himself against criticism that he should have reacted earlier to deal with the pandemic. The move is also intended to protect American jobs, the president said in a tweet.

“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!” he wrote.

Trump banned foreigners who had been to China within the past 14 days from entering the United States. He’s repeatedly mentioned the move in news conferences and said his decision likely saved American lives.

The president has already issued an order that immediately returns to Mexico undocumented immigrants apprehended by the U.S. Border Patrol without giving them the chance to apply for asylum. Department of Homeland Security officials said the policy would help reduce overcrowding in detention facilities and lessen the risk of widespread infection among immigrants. But immigrant rights groups insist the policy was nothing more than a restrictive policy to further the president’s immigration agenda.

Trump’s first term in office has been marked by several other immigration measures designed to slow the number of immigrants who enter the country. They include the family separations policy of 2018 where families who traveled to the United States together to seek asylum were separated and the adults placed in detention. That was followed by the Migrant Protection Policy that requires asylum seekers to wait in Mexico for their American court dates. The separation policy ended after a few months amid a nationwide outcry over the policy, but the MPP program remains in effect and has so far survived several court challenges.

Though the president’s policies have had the intended effect to reduce immigration to this country, undocumented workers still make up a significant amount of the state’s labor force.

Can Trump Sign such Executive Order – Regulation ?

As per regulation 8 U.S.C 1182, the President of United states has the authority to suspend entry or impose restrictions by proclamation, if President finds that entry of foreign nationals would be detrimental to US interests. President can suspend entry of all foreign nationals or certain visa types as needed, that includes both immigrants and non-immigrants. See below the official regulation text screenshot highlighted for your. All this tells us is that Trump has the power to suspend entry for non-immigrant work visa holders like H1B Visa, L1, or any other visa types, if the president believes it can hurt US interests. The trick is the second part, “Detrimental to US Interests “, which means “something that may cause harm to US interests”. Now, the big question is how President will justify that second part to put in proclamation… You can check completed details of Regulation 8 U.SC. 1182.

Will the Executive Order be Signed for US Immigration Suspension ?

This is something that no one knows at this point. Politico has published news that that DHS is working on the draft of the Executive Order. They say in that article the reason for this move could be the rise in unemployment situation…again, all of these speculations and insider info. No one can validate anything.

New York Times published an article that tells as per their sources that president plans to sign something that suspends new green cards, work visas ( assuming H1B visa), etc..See below screenshot. Again, this is New York Times connections and journalists getting the info, so we do not know the reality. Check the NYTimes Article on US immigration Suspension.

Until we see a real Executive Order officially signed by President Trump, we cannot say. This may happen knowing the kind of stance on immigration that current Trump Administration has. We need to wait and see.

Impact on people currently on H1B, L1, Other work visas?

Attorney Rajiv Khanna has shared an update saying that whispers are strong that DHS is planning to hold off work visas for 90 days.

  • He adds that exceptions are being considered for Jobs in Food Production (farm workers) using the H2B visa and supply chain.
  • Healthcare professions – Anybody working in a medical profession or a health care company might be safe.

Recertify H1B LCA?

H1B workers might be asked to provide updated LCA certifications proving that they are not displacing American workers! This is a BIG task and will certainly affect current extensions, transfers, and other applications.

Family Based Green Card

Spouses and children of US citizens and green card holders will not affected by this ban. For others, no information is available yet but be prepared for being part of ban and keep your options open.

CNN Reports Travel ban for 90-120 days

Earlier, CNN reports that the executive order is not ready yet but the officials working on the draft say that it intends to halt green cards and work visas for about 120 days.

This may affect work visas like H1B, L, EADs like H4 and L2 among others to get a new extension or transfer approvals. Some attorneys have the opinion that the ban may be implemented for certain industries and may exclude healthcare services.

Trump’s government is also planning to put a temporary ban on entry in the US from more countries. At this time, nobody is allowed to come to the US from Europe and China.

People with a valid visa but are currently stuck in their home country like China or India may not be able to travel back to the US in the near future if this entry ban is implemented.

The sentiments are high and most decisions in an election year are going to be made keeping in mind the voter sentiment which incidentally is inclined towards banning immigration. See this Washington Post survey: