Trump’s COVID-19 Policy: Temporary Suspension of US Immigration - | Hudson McKenzie

Trump’s COVID-19 Policy: Temporary Suspension of US Immigration

On Monday 20th April 2020, US President Donald Trump boldly voiced that he would sign an executive order to momentarily halt immigration to the US because of the pandemic. As of Thursday 23rd April, he has officially signed the proposed executive order to temporarily defer approval of green cards. This new policy is to be implemented for a period of 60 days and may be subject to extension. It is effective from 23:59 PM on Thursday 23rd April 2020.

The impact of the coronavirus has spiralled in the US, with over 787,000 cases of COVID-19 and more than 42,000 deaths according to John Hopkins University. In addition, over 20 million American citizens have applied for employment benefits since the outbreak.

Upon consideration of the detrimental effects caused by the pandemic on the economy, President Trump’s rationale behind this is the immediate need to safeguard American jobs in a down turning economy. According to the Trump campaign statement, the intentions to suspend US immigration are two-fold; i) to block competition for jobs and ii) to prevent the threat of imported infections.

As of last month, the US discontinued the majority of visa processes ad interim because of the pandemic, which included visa processing for immigrants. In addition, an extension to border restrictions of non-essential travel purposes has been agreed with Canada and Mexico, with travel stringently limited to EU countries and China. Critics suggest that this new policy is a ploy to support Trump’s anti-immigration stance.

Purpose of Green Cards:

Green cards give immigrants legal permanent residency status in the US. They also provide immigrants with the chance to apply for full American citizenship.

Who this applies to:

  • Temporary guest visas
  • Immigrants overseas either waiting for approval or currently applying for immigration into the US
  • Individuals waiting for issuance of either an immigrant visa or a formal travel document, such as transportation letters
  • Exceptions: American citizens’ spouses and children under the age of 21
                          Green card applicants already residing and employed in the US or those seeking entry to be employed as either a doctor, nurse or other healthcare professional
                          Green card holders sponsoring their extended families for permanent US residency
                         Any nonimmigrant visa programs, including the H-1B, L-1, TN, E, O-1, P-1, F-1, J-1, and B visa schemes.

The Potential Impact:

Although this move is likely to face legal challenge from critics, this could block up to 20,000 applicants every month according to the Washington-based Migration Policy.

However, the immediate result and the scope of this order will remain to be seen; all visa processing procedures have discontinued by state departments since the middle of March because of the coronavirus. Equally, it will not impact many categories of persons either already resident in the US, employers and non-immigrants. Individual immigration applications would have incurred interruptions in processing anyway but now this has become more apparent and extends the delay for a further 60 days.

If you would like further advice on US immigration in light of the pandemic or require our legal immigration services, please contact a legal professional at Hudson McKenzie via email at or by telephone: +44 (0)20 3318 5799.