President Trump Signs Executive Orders to Ban Green Card Approvals for 60 Days

April 23, 2020 by Prabalta Rijal

President Donald Trump just after 48 hours of his tweet about banning immigration to the US, has signed an executive order to temporarily suspend green card application and approval for 60 days.

The Trump administration has claimed that the order aims at protecting American workers’ jobs post the COVID-19 crisis. “This will ensure that unemployed Americans of all backgrounds will be first in line for jobs as our economy reopens,” Mr. Trump said during Wednesday’s coronavirus briefing at the White House.

Who does this Law Affect and not Affect:

The new measures are expected to cease green cards for foreigners including the Diversity Visa Lottery that issues approximately 50,000 green cards every day. It will also prevent green card holders from sponsoring their extended family members for the green card. 

The hundreds of thousands of green card applicants already living and working in the US, and those seeking entry to work as doctors, nurses or other healthcare professionals are exempted from the order.

Another exception is the hundreds of thousands of temporary guest visas issued each year to such applicants as farm laborers and skilled workers in the H-1B visa program.

What Visas will it Impact?

According to a Washington-based Migration Policy Institute, Trump’s order could block over 20,000 applicants per month from obtaining a green card.  Trump announced that there may be additional restrictions coming down the line in future executive orders.

This order will only target people seeking green cards it will not target non-immigrant / temporary visas like the O-1 or H1-B visa. Similarly, critics believe that some form of exemptions will be made for certain industries and situations. These details should be released within the coming days.

 Why is trying for the O-1 Visa a Great choice Post COVID-19?

Due to the rapid rise in unemployment, caused by the current global COVID-19 crisis, various anti-immigration groups and far-right hardliners have already started protesting about immigrants taking American jobs, and with the presidential elections right around the corner, President Trump is trying hard to gain extra points. 

While the H-1B visa is primarily used to bring in highly skilled workers it has never actually been the best visa type for foreigners. 

Not only is it a lottery visa, but it does not allow for dual intent either, so tech talents wanting to permanently reside in the US don’t actually have the option to convert their visa directly into a Green Card.

The O-1 Visa, on the other hand, is dual intent, non-immigrant, employment visa for people with extraordinary talents in the field of technology, arts, sport, business, education, or the sciences. 

It is an employment visa, which means it has to be petitioned by an employer or a talent agency. Contrary to other visa categories, there are no limitations to how many times an applicant can file for an O-1 Status. Unlike the H1-B visa, It may be renewed indefinitely as long as their services are required by the employer.

Although the O-1 Visa will need an employer to petition for the employee, like for the H1-B visa, immigrants on the visa can go on furlough without disrupting their visa status and are allowed to work from home without having to notify the USCIS like other visa types.

Similarly, since it is a dual intent visa it means that it will allow its holders to change their status to an EB-1 Green card.