A Permanent Resident Card, also known as a green card, allows individuals who are not American citizens to live and work permanently in the United States. In the fiscal year of 2019, approximately 1.1 million people were granted green cards. On April 20, 2020, a temporary band on green cards went into effect for a minimum of 60 days. Estimates indicate that this will block more than 350,000 people from obtaining a green card. The diversity lottery that issues approximately 50,000 visas each year will also be suspended.
Details of the Green Card Ban
The ban on green cards does not impact visitors to the United States who are here on a temporary basis; it applies only to those seeking to stay here permanently and family-based visas. Details of the ban include the following:
- Decisions on immigrant visa applications filed through consular processing outside of the United States will be delayed for at least 60 days.
- The ban does not apply to green card applicants who are spouses or minor children of United States citizens, but it does apply to parents and adult children of United States citizens.
- Green card applicants filing for adjustment of status from within the United States will still have their applications processed.
- EB-5 Immigrant Investor visas will still be processed.
- Student visas, H-1B visas, visas for seasonal agricultural workers, and other temporary visas are not affected.
Also exempt are members of the United States military and their children, as well as immigrants from Afghanistan and Iraq who obtained visas by assisting in United States military operations.
Effects of the Green Card Ban on Immigration
Under normal circumstances, any type of immigration ban would immediately impact millions of people. However, the United States immigration system has already slowed dramatically due to the outbreak of COVID-19, the disease caused by the Coronavirus. Several of the biggest impediments to immigration prior to the green card ban include the following:
- A suspension of most routine visa processing activities by the State Department
- Restricted air travel
- Shelter-in-place orders
Currently, there are thousands of foreign-born health care workers in the United States who are on the front lines of treating American patients who contracted COVID-19. Their families who are seeking to join them in the United States are now in limbo. Although the green card ban is currently scheduled to remain in effect until June 19, 2020, the administration has said it may extend it after 60 days, based on the economic conditions at the time.
The nation’s immigration laws have been changing during the past few years and are now in an even greater state of flux due to the pandemic and its drastic effects on the United States economy. Now more than ever, it is important to work with a knowledgeable immigration lawyer when questions and problems arise.
Philadelphia Immigration Lawyers at Surin & Griffin, P.C. Provide Skilled Guidance Regarding Changes to Laws Governing Green Card Applications
In times of change and uncertainty, obtaining professional legal guidance becomes even more critical to protecting your rights. Our Philadelphia immigration lawyers at Surin & Griffin, P.C. stay up to date with the latest changes in the law to provide skilled advocacy to every client we serve, regardless of status. For an initial consultation, complete our online form or call us at 215-925-4435. Located in Philadelphia, we serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and nationwide.