Updated Statement Regarding President Trump's Immigration Announcement

April 21, 2020

On April 22, 2020 President Trump issued a new proclamation related to immigration.  It does not appear that this order will affect our international students and scholars on non-immigrant visas at this time.

Please see below for a summary of some of the key points:

  • The proclamation does not currently apply to nonimmigrants (F, J, H-1B, O, E3, TN, etc.) at all.  Therefore, it does not bar the issuance of nonimmigrant visas nor their use to gain entry into the U.S. by foreign nationals.  Nevertheless, it is important to note that “routine visa processing” remains suspended at US consular offices worldwide, due to the crisis conditions.  Also, there are numerous travel bans still in effect that will bar entry for certain persons with valid US visa stamps.
  • The proclamation does not restrict the filling, adjudication, or approval of domestic applications and petitions, i.e., those filed in the U.S. with USCIS.  Therefore, applications for work permission (e.g., OPT and STEM OPT) as well as applications for changes of status, extension of status, and green card related domestic filings will continue to be processed by USCIS and DOL.
  • The proclamation as written is effective for 60 days but could be extended beyond the 60 days.  The order requires that the federal government review nonimmigrant programs before May 23rd, and other measures may follow.
  • The proclamation restricts only entry into the United States for 60 days of persons now outside the U.S. who are holders of immigrant visas (i.e., visas that support permanent residence in the United States) that consulates may issue after 4/23/2020 and who also are beneficiaries of only certain categories: (1) Employment-Based and (2) Family-Based sponsorship and (3) the Diversity Lottery.  It does not affect entry of persons with nonimmigrant status who have a green card case pending inside of the US.  Nor does it restrict entry of holders of nonimmigrants (temporary) visas or entry via advance parole, reentry permits, or the presentation of green cards already issued inside of the US.  Again, it is important to remember that consular offices have suspended “routine visa processing” and there are travel bans that limit travel to the US at this time.
  • The proclamation does not bar the issuance of either immigrant (or as noted above, of nonimmigrant) visas by a consulate during the 60 day hiatus — it only bars the use of those specified immigrant visas to gain admission to the U.S.  Consulates are not open currently.  Once consulates re-open, the officers can issue visas for the excluded immigrants during the 60-day period, but affected immigrant visa recipients will then have to wait until the proclamation has expired before they may use the immigrant visas to gain admission to the U.S.  This does not affect green card issuance inside of the US or the ability to use green cards to gain entry to the US.
  • The proclamation does not apply to those seeking to enter the United States on an immigrant visa as a physician, nurse, or other healthcare professional; to perform medical research or other research intended to combat the spread of COVID-19; or to perform work essential to combating, recovering from, or otherwise alleviating the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak, as determined by the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Homeland Security, or their respective designees;  and any spouse and unmarried children under 21 years old who are accompanying or following to join.

The HIO will continue to monitor the situation and as always, will work with Harvard’s Office of Federal Relations to advocate for all international students and scholars.  Stay safe.