US president Donald Trump hit the headlines all over the world with his tweet banning immigration to the US. This was followed by signing of an executive order on Wednesday to "pause" the issuance of green cards for 60 days, describing it as an effort to protect Americans from the competition from foreign workers during the coronavirus pandemic.
This announcement has created a lot of confusion and anxiety amongst our people in the US as well has here in India.
We have analysed the executive order and other announcements in this regard and attempted to address them:
Who is Banned?
# A major category of people who are banned is the ones seeking green cards through an American family member- a parent, child (above 21 years) or a sibling. The order temporarily bars green card-holders from sponsoring a spouse or child for permanent residency.
# Individuals who have applied for green card through other means, such as employment or the EB-1 "extraordinary ability" category.
Who is Exempted?
# First, to the great relief of many EB-5 investors, this category of immigrant visa has been specifically exempted from the ban. This is because EB -5 visa requires you to invest a minimum $900,000 and create at least 10 jobs, something which the US, specially Donald Trump, needs desperately in the current situation, in an election year.
# Spouses and children-under-21 of American citizens can still get green cards.
# Medical professionals, defined as "a physician, nurse, or other healthcare professional" working to combat COVID-19, are exempt, and may bring their spouses and unmarried kids under 21.
What about Business Visas?
The ban does not apply to business visas like E-2, L-1 etc. which allow entry into the US for setting up business. There are many people who would be looking at this type of visa to explore business opportunities in the US, which, in the wake of current economic crises, will throw in a lot of bargains.
What about people already in US?
This ban will not apply to any of existing visa holders – immigrants as well as non-immigrants – EB-5, E2, L1, H1-B, F1 etc. People with valid existing visas can continue to live, work, study and do business as usual.
How long will the ban last?
The order will be effective from April 23, 2020 and terminates after 60 days. 10 days before the expiry of this period, the administration will recommend to the President, whether he should continue or alter it.
However, considering that the US administration is in lockdown, and in the case not processing any immigration applications or documents; it means that this order will have little or no effect in real terms.
Paresh Karia is a chartered accountant specialising in immigration.