Last night on the evening of April 20, 2020, President Trump tweeted that he is going to temporarily suspend immigration to the United States. The White House has not provided any details regarding exactly what categories of applicants this announcement impacts, nor do we know whether this will be a legally enforceable action. Thus, although we are concerned and disappointed at this announcement, it is not a cause to panic. Rather, this announcement is most likely political maneuvering. Whether or not there will be additional legally enforceable barriers to U.S. immigration remains to be seen. As of the time of this writing, there has been no change in immigration policy due to the president’s tweet.
Many immigration benefits adjudications that require in-person interviews have already been temporarily suspended due to government agency closures following state and local shutdowns due to concerns about the spread of COVID-19. However, government agencies that adjudicate immigration benefits, such as the Department of Homeland Security’s USCIS, remain open and continue adjudicating applications that do not require in-person interviews. In addition, although Immigration Courts with non-detained dockets have suspended hearings, they continue to accept filings many of which have deadlines that have not been altered. Finally, while consular offices are closed for routine operations out of COVID-19 concerns, the National Visa Center continues to process visa applications. Consular interviews, however, will not resume until the consulates reopen. Note that these were changes in response to the threat of COVID-19 and NOT as a result of the president’s announcement last night.
As soon as we have information about the new policy the president referred to, we will update you on the policy and on how it may affect particular types of cases. At this time, however, we believe it is best to proceed with applications so that they can be submitted to the appropriate government agency before any proposed suspension is put in place.
Our office is open and continues operations during this time of the COVID-19 pandemic. For more information, please contact us by phone or email, or get the latest information by liking us on Facebook or following us on Twitter.
Please know that we strongly disagree with the president’s announcement and we appreciate the many important contributions immigrants make to the United States, especially those working so hard to keep us safe during the pandemic.