This past April, President Trump issued his immigration proclamation suspending the entry of Immigrants into the US for sixty days. We covered the salient points in earlier posts. However, unless you have read the order in its entirety, you may not realize that the order was only the first volley of what may turn out to be a series of immigration related restrictions prompted by the COVID-19 crisis. In fact, even before this proclamation was issued, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) had already issued an order on March 20 suspending the entry of certain persons from where outbreaks exists. The effect of that order virtually expels individuals traveling from Canada or Mexico who would otherwise be processed at Port of Entry and Border Patrol stations. As a result, people traveling from those countries without proper travel documents or who have entered without inspection-even with meritorious refugee claims-will be summarily denied entry out of public safety concerns.
Under Section 6 of President Trump’s Proclamation, the Secretary of Labor, Department of Homeland Security, and Secretary of State are to review non-immigrant programs and recommend appropriate measures to facilitate the employment of American workers. The recommendations are to be submitted to the President within 30 days, which is the 23rd of this month. What this means is that there may and likely will be another proclamation pertaining to the suspension of individuals seeking to enter on non-immigrant visas, which includes but is not limited to visitor visas, business visas, student visas, exchange visas, and temporary worker visas. F-1 students, especially, may experience some of the most adverse impact. Only a few years ago, there was a movement to eliminate OPT or Optional Practical Training for foreign students after graduation (a program that allows students to work in their field for one year or an additional two years for STEM-related fields). Strict measures like this may possibly resurface. Foreign students from China, in particular, may also be singled out. Chinese students may be prevented from studying in certain technical fields and/or pursuing OPT or CPT (curricular practical training).
Expect to see a new proclamation soon. These new orders may not have much teeth now, but once the consulates start resuming operations and the country continues to open up, there may be considerable ramifications for foreign nationals.
The above is general information only. It is not specific legal advice nor intended to create an attorney-client relationship. If you need advice, please consult with an attorney.