By Nandini Nair
(Editor’s note: The transcript has been edited for clarity.)
I hope everyone is continuing to stay safe and healthy. I know we’re in about our sixth week of the Coronavirus lockdown. It’s getting a little tiring — my kids are really going crazy at this point. But just continue to stay safe and healthy out there.
I also want to take 10 seconds to give a shout-out to all the healthcare workers, first-line responders, grocery store people, truck drivers, who are bringing us our food, Amazon warehouse workers. Big shout-out to them! Thank you so much for all that you are doing to keep us all safe and protected.
So, let’s get to this week, guys! What happened? Well you didn’t hear there was a tweet that went around created panic for everyone this week? We all woke up Tuesday morning to a tweet by President Trump that said he was banning all immigration.
What did that mean? We were all sitting here thinking, “What does that mean? What type of banning was he going to do? Was that complete stoppage of all immigration?
It had created a lot of anxiety and panic and fear. I had so many clients calling me that day and emailing me and trying to figure out what was actually happening. So, as of this morning, or as of last night, I should say, we finally have some answers.
It was a 48-hour wait, but we finally know what the executive order and what that tweet actually meant. So what does it actually mean? What are we banning? What are we doing at this point? Well, President Trump assigned an executive order last night that basically put a 60-day pause — not a ban, a pause — on immigrant visa processing.
What does “immigrant” mean? “Immigrant” means green card processing, if you are outside the US. It does not pause anything within the US. So if you are filing your AOS (adjustment of status), or if you are in AOS, if you are filing an I-140, there is no pause on any of those type of applications here in the United States.
So that’s good. It’s much better than what we had been expecting, but still what are the ramifications of this pause of 60 days on immigrant visa processing?
Well, what it means is that anyone who has not actually gotten the visa issued on their passport, who are in the waiting game of getting their case approved, or they’re waiting for their consulate interview, there’s going to be a 60-day pause on it — whether it’s family-based, or employment- based.
The employment-based is going to be impacted very slightly on this. There’s only about a 13% amount of people who do employment-based green card processing outside the United States. The greatest impact is really going to be on family-based cases. But there are exceptions to this pause. The exceptions include spouses of US citizens, minor children of US citizens, EB-5 investors, healthcare workers who are coming in for Covid-19 work. So there’s multiple exceptions that is part of this proclamation.
Now so where does this really then impact? Well it impacts on parents of US citizens. It impacts on siblings of US citizens. It impacts on spouses of green card holders. That’s where this is going to actually have a larger impact. So there’s going to be a 60-day pause on that type of processing.
Now do I think that this is going to get extended beyond 60 days?
I think that’s going to be a foregone conclusion. I think this is going to probably be taken out till the November election. That’s really tough for a lot of these parents who are waiting to join their US citizen kids in the United States. It’s a real-life family separation at this point. We do feel for those individuals, but on a larger note this was much less than what we had all anticipated it to be.
It’s also important for my foreign workers, people who are here on work visas, to take a sigh of relief. But, at the same time, know that within that proclamation, there is some language that’s a little concerning to me. And I think it’s concerning to everyone where [the president] has requested the Department of Labor to look at all work visas and non-immigrant work visas and to give President Trump a report within the next 30 days of how it can help the US economy.
And what that probably means is what has to be stopped, if in the work visa contacts, to help US workers. So that’s something that we are on the lookout for. I know I’m monitoring this situation almost on a daily basis because obviously we have millions of individuals who are here on various work visas including the H-1B, including L1s, including TNs, E3s and Os. Will there be another executive order within that 30 or 60 days that will have some impact on that population?
Once I know something, I’m definitely going to come out back on and let you guys know where this is going to be going. But as of today, as of right now, we live to fight another day!