What’s In the New Executive Order Suspending US Immigration?

Washington, D.C., April 22, 2020: The White House has still not released the Executive Order suspending immigration to the U.S. The President first announced this new measure by Tweet on Monday evening — apparently without prior coordination with the Department of Homeland Security, USCIS and Department of State. The text of the Executive Order was written on Tuesday and was submitted to the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel for legal compliance. As of today, Wednesday morning, the Executive Order still has not been released to the public.

The stated purpose behind the proposed Executive Order is to protect jobs for US workers, who have filed more than 22 million new unemployment claims in the last 60 days since the COVID-19 crisis began in the US.

Most commentators, however, are not convinced. They view this measure as an effort to change negative headlines about the COVID-19 crisis, and a natural progression of the anti-immigrant views the President’s political base adores, and which find their most ardent supporter in his chief immigration advisor, Stephen Miller.

The only information available about the Executive Order comes from the President’s news conference on Tuesday and late-night reporting by various media on Tuesday evening.

The landscape appears to be the following:

(1) The White House will order a 60-day suspension of all green card processing by USCIS and US Department of State. It is likely that the Executive Order will apply to all green cards obtained through employment (with exception for medical professionals) as well as all green cards obtained through family sponsorship.

(2) The White House will order restrictions on the H-1B skilled worker program that may require employers to demonstrate that they have not laid off US workers in positions that are occupied by H-1B skilled workers. More aggressive reports indicate a suspension of issuance of new initial H-1B skilled worker visas along with many other types of new initial work visas to the US. It has not been reported that the White House intends to rescind any work visas already granted, or prevent the extension of any work visas already granted. The focus appears to be on issuance of new visas for the first time.

(3) Farm worker visas appear to be exempt from the proposed Executive Order.

These concepts are nevertheless speculative. The White House has not clarified the content of the proposed Executive Order.

A formal release of the Executive Order is rumored for Wednesday, April 21, 2020.

It is important to note that US Consulates all over the world have been closed for nearly all visa processing since March 20, 2020. This means that the Executive Order expands upon a Department of State policy that already shut down most immigration and visits to the US.

The biggest concern is that the 60-day temporary suspension may evolve into a longer-term “temporary” suspension.

We will continue to report on updates to this policy as details are announced.

Donoso & Partners, a leading immigration law firm based in Washington, D.C., will continue to report on developments regarding the immigration law and policy through our news section of donosolaw.com.


Donoso & Partners, LLC provide assistance with review and advice regarding eligibility for visas to the U.S. or Canada.

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