The announcement of the Trump Executive Order has alarmed all foreign nationals both immigrants and nonimmigrants. While numerous countries including the US have implemented travel bans, the US State Department has also suspended routine immigrant and nonimmigrant visa appointments for weeks already. Travel to the U.S. has already been restricted from much of the globe. The purpose of the executive order is to” block immigrants” but not those entering as temporary workers, or students. The ban is to bar immigrants from entering on new green cards (spouses and children of US citizens are exempt) such as foreign workers approved on the basis of employment-based cases for a period of sixty days.

Immigration attorneys are fielding calls from concerned clients and friends, about whether the executive order will impact their immigration cases. It certainly has created a state of anxiety for many. Emandi Law Firm will clarify that the executive order does not in effect have an impact on immigration cases for the following reason:

All green card cases either family or employment-based take at least several months to years to adjudicate and are a multi-step process. For family immigration cases where a family member such as a US citizen/permanent resident petitions for a wife or child or a sibling for another sibling, the first step of the process is to file the petition at the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). On average the processing time runs at least 6 months to 12 months at the minimum range if not longer.

If the individual being filed for the immigrant beneficiary is located abroad there is a second step where the USCIS forwards the approval of the immigrant petition to the National Visa Center (NVC).  The National Visa Center then coordinates the interview at the US consulate abroad based on when the visa number becomes available.

For nationals of all countries except for China, India, Mexico, and the Philippines, the nationals of all other countries will be scheduled for interviews within three (3) months after completing the application process with police clearance certificates and another vetting. Nationals of the four (4) countries aforementioned must wait until the immigrant visa number becomes available as such countries have been oversubscribed due to the high number of applicants.

This is the message from the NVC website as of March 20, 2020. Suspension of Routine Visa Services

Last Updated: March 20, 2020

In response to significant worldwide challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of State is temporarily suspending routine visa services at all U.S. Embassies and Consulates. Embassies and consulates will cancel all routine immigrant and nonimmigrant visa appointments as of March 20, 2020. As resources allow, embassies and consulates will continue to provide emergency and mission-critical visa services. Our overseas missions will resume routine visa services as soon as possible but are unable to provide a specific date at this time.

The bottom line is that the NVC has suspended normal immigrant visa appointments since March 20, 2020, due to the coronavirus so what if any impact does the executive order have? None

The other point to mention is if the ban is viewed as “protecting US workers” it should be noted that the employment-based green card applicants have been vetted as professionals in fields not readily found in the US market. As a matter of fact, prior to the approval of their three (3) step process which takes at a minimum of 1.5 years to several years (nationals of the countries aforementioned sustain processing times from 9 + years), the companies filing for the immigrant visas must advertise for the position through 5+ media sources over a period of 3-6 months to determine if a US worker is available to meet the requirements of the employer’s position.

Only after having advertised and reviewed any qualified resumes, can the permanent job be certified for the employer. Further, the employer still requires the permanent position and/or would indicate to the beneficiary at this time due to the economy that the individual should wait before traveling to the US. Moreover, many countries already have their own travel bans and individuals cannot fly out of that country even if they wanted to such as India among other countries.

Hence, the sixty-day travel ban for immigrant holders does not address the goals it is set out to address which is to protect US workers.

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