On April 22, 2020, President Trump issued a Presidential Proclamation that suspended the issuance of visas to certain immigrant categories until December 31, 2020, as a result of the COVID-19 Pandemic. This Proclamation does not impact those beneficiaries who are currently in the United States, however it affects the issuance of visas that would allow certain categories of immigrants from entering the United States. In issuing this Proclamation, the Trump Administration weaponized COVID-19 and stated that it was necessary in order to protect U.S. jobs during a time where the U.S. unemployment rate was skyrocketing. As a result, much of the discussion surrounding this Proclamation involved its impact on employment-based immigration cases. However, there were also significant consequences for family-based immigration cases as a result of this Proclamation.
The Proclamation suspended the issuance of visas to all family-based immigrant categories except for certain immediate relative cases. An immediate relative case is typically a case filed by a U.S. Citizen on behalf of a spouse, parent, or child under 21 years old. However, this Proclamation only allows for an exception for spouses and children. This therefore means that family-based cases filed on behalf of U.S. Citizens for their parents are at a standstill. In total, this Proclamation suspends issuance of visas to the following categories: IR-5 (parents of U.S. Citizens), F1 (unmarried adult children of U.S. Citizens), F2 (spouses and unmarried children of Lawful Permanent Residents), F3 (married sons and daughters of U.S. Citizens), and F4 (adult siblings of U.S. Citizens).
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services grants Lawful Permanent Residence to approximately 1.1 million individuals each year and based upon statistics collected from previous years, it can be estimated that this Proclamation impacts approximately 350,000, or one third, of these cases across both employment-based and family-based categories. Further, it is projected that the Proclamation will have devasting impact upon the family-based immigrant visa categories should this be extended beyond 2020. Based upon the Department of Homeland Security Statistics published in 2018, approximately 280,000 family-based immigrants could be impacted annually.
Although the Proclamation was issued under the guise of providing aid to the U.S. economy and helping to curtail the ever-increasing unemployment rate, it is evident that this Proclamation impacts not only those immigrants coming to the U.S. to work, but those coming to reunite with their families. Under a heavily anti-immigrant Administration, it is not surprising that the suspension of visa issuance for family-based categories was included. In fact, the outcome of the Proclamation is consistent with the anti-immigration tenets promulgated by the Trump Administration since its inception.
There have been many attempts by the Trump Administration to limit immigration into the United States, and this Proclamation is simply another one of these efforts. Additional attempts include the public charge rule, additional limits on asylum, rejections of alleged erooneous applications, and enormous delays in the issuance of immigration documents. As we near the 2020 Election, it is almost certain that additional efforts to halt immigration will be made. The lawyers at NPZ Law Group, P.C. remain vigilant and will provide updates regarding new proposals as they become available.
To obtain more information regarding the Proclamation, or to schedule a consultation with any of the Immigration and Nationality Lawyers at the Nachman Phulwani Zimovcak (NPZ) Law Group, please feel free to call the Firm at 201-670-0006. Our main office is in Ridgewood, New Jersey. We also have an office located in Raritan, New Jersey, and New York City. NPZ also maintains affiliated offices in India and in Canada. For more information about our Firm’s imm