On Wednesday, April 22, 2020, the President of the United States signed an executive order that restricts certain categories of immigrants from entering the country for 60 days. This was declared in response to the coronavirus pandemic that has left the U.S., along with most of the world, reeling.

Visa application during COVID-19 pandemic

Employment-based immigration visas, as well as family-based categories for parents and siblings, also known as “chain migration,” are the two categories that have been most affected. This marks a huge change in immigration in the United States, as immigrants in these categories accounted for over half of the 462,000 immigrant visas issued in 2019.

Immigration Lawyer Jean Danhong Chen, the founder of The Law Offices of Jean D. Chen, provides insight into how this new presidential executive order will affect immigration to the United States.

Who is Exempt?

The executive order that officially took effect on Thursday, April 23 thankfully does not apply to every single category of immigrant. For example, medical workers, agricultural workers, and those wishing to enter on a temporary, non-immigrant visa, are exempt from the order. President Donald Trump claimed that the reasons for these new immigration measures were all economic, to protect American jobs. The official White House statement read, “President Trump’s efforts will ensure we continue to put American workers first as we begin to reopen our economy. The American people strongly support common sense efforts to restrict immigration as we confront the coronavirus.”

Overall, while every country is experiencing an economic recession, Jean Danhong Chen says that introducing such harsh restrictions on immigration is not the answer.

What is Chain Migration?

“Chain migration,” a phrase coined by the current U.S. president, refers to all immigration to the United States that occurs through family ties. For example, when a U.S. citizen or a green card holder petitions to have a relative (this could be a child, spouse, sibling, or parent) join them. It is based on the notion that people are more likely to move where people they know live and who do they know better than their own family?

Although the new executive order from April 22 is only in place for 60 days, it is possible that it could be extended. The important thing is ensuring it does not get extended indefinitely, asserts Jean Danhong Chen, as this would completely overhaul the current U.S. immigration system.

What About Green Cards?

The executive order issued on April 22 also affects green cards. The measure temporarily halts the Diversity Visa Lottery, which issues roughly 50,000 green cards each year. In addition, legal permanent residents of the United States will be unable to try and bring their spouses or children into the country for the time being. This measure does not apply to U.S. citizens.

Final Thoughts

We are certainly all living in unprecedented times, which presents challenges for people hoping to move to the U.S. Jean Danhong Chen urges people not to lose hope, as these current measures are temporary and aim to protect others. She knows that once the pandemic is over, applications can continue to be processed and people can be reunited with their families once again.

About Jean Danhong Chen

Immigration Lawyer Jean Danhong Chen is the founder of The Law Offices of Jean D. Chen, which specializes exclusively in the area of U.S. immigration and naturalization law. Their attorneys are licensed across the country and their team is international, with attorneys from both the United States and China. Since it was established, the firm has dedicated themselves to providing quality employment and family-based immigration services to corporate and individual clients throughout the United States.

As members of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) for over 17 years, their comprehensive knowledge of immigration law and quick response time to their clients has earned them the confidence of numerous companies and individuals throughout the country. They have had over 10,000 visa and green card case approvals across all 50 states.