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Updates From Our Immigration Attorneys in New Orleans, LA

Food Distribution for Undocumented Families Impacted by COVID-19

Familias Unidas en Accion is running a food distribution program for undocumented families in the New Orleans area. If a family discloses food insecurity to you and they’re unable to access assistance thru other means due to status, please share this information with them. They can call the familias unidas hotline (504) 224 - 9770 and someone will help set them up for delivery.

Update on Trump Tweet: Immigration Applications within the U.S. are not Affected; Very Few Implications for Applications Abroad

As a response to his April 20, 2020 tweet, President Trump issued a Presidential Proclamation on Wednesday, April 22, 2020.

The proclamation halts the issuance of immigrant visas for individuals outside of the US for 60 days. The proclamation does not impact individuals inside the US.

The proclamation does not affect individuals who already have been issued an immigrant visa or lawful permanent residents who are outside the US.

The proclamation impacts only immigrant visas; nonimmigrant visas are not affected. The term “immigrant visa” has a very specific and limited meaning in immigration law. It refers only to visas allowing admission to the United States as a lawful permanent resident. This proclamation does not apply to individuals applying for visas for temporary admission to the United States (e.g., tourists, students, temporary employment, exchange visitors, etc.).

The following people who are applying for immigrant visas are exempt from the proclamation:

  • The spouse and minor children of US citizens and prospective adoptees entering pursuant to the IR-4 or IH-4 visa classifications;
  • Physicians, nurses and healthcare professionals and their spouse and unmarried minor children;
  • Individuals who will carry out research on COVID-19 or perform work related to COVID-19;
  • Individuals seeking to enter pursuant to the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program;
  • Members of the US military and their spouses and children;
  • Individuals seeking to enter pursuant to a Special Immigrant Visa in the SI or SQ classification, and their spouse and children;
  • Individuals whose entry would further US law enforcement objectives; and
  • Individuals whose entry would be in the national interest.

Who is impacted by the proclamation?

Per the proclamation, for the next 60 days the State Department will not issue immigrant visas for:

  • the spouse and children of lawful permanent residents;
  • the parents, adult children, and siblings of US citizens; and
  • most employment-based immigrant visas.

However, due to the fact that consulates have been closed because of coronavirus concerns, the proclamation will have little impact on anyone.

Analysis of Trump’s Tweet

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.

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