Keeping you informed

Weekly Review of COVID-19's Impact on Business Immigration

    Client Alerts
  • April 21, 2020

President Donald Trump announced in a tweet last night that he plans to suspend all immigration into the United States. The U.S. has also extended the closure of all “non-essential” travel across its northern and southern border, and it granted relief to business travelers who have been stuck in the country because of the coronavirus pandemic. Below you’ll find more detail on those announcements impacting business immigration over the past week.

  • Late on April 20, President Trump tweeted that he will sign an executive order “to temporarily suspend immigration into the United States.” While there is little detail available about the order at this moment, it could in effect freeze the country’s legal immigration system. Politico reports that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is still drafting the order, and that there have been discussions of exempting temporary guest workers. However, other news outlets report that the order may be more expansive and temporarily bar all immigrant and non-immigrant visas to live and work in the United States. Whatever shape the order ultimately takes, it will have a major impact on business immigration and we will update you when we have more details.  
     
  • Earlier on April 20, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that the U.S., Canada, and Mexico have extended the closure of their borders to “non-essential” traffic for another 30 days. DHS has defined non-essential as “travel that is considered tourism or recreational in nature.” The department has emphasized that trucking and other elements of the supply chain are not impacted by the closure, nor are people who cross the border “every day to do essential work or for other urgent or essential reasons.”
     
  • On April 17, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced that visitors under the Visa Waiver Program – whether business travelers or tourists – could apply for an additional 30-day extension. “The extension grants flexibility to Visa Waiver Program travelers who have difficulty returning to their countries due to COVID-19 related travel restrictions, flight cancellations or illness,” CBP said. The program typically has a hard 90-day stop for travelers to leave the country, but CBP had already granted 30 days of flexibility categorized as “satisfactory departure” for those who apply before the expiration of their current stay. This announcement provides another 30 days of relief on top of that. However, it is unclear if this will be impacted by the president’s tweet about suspending all immigration. 

For more information, please contact us or your regular Parker Poe contact. You can find the firm's additional COVID-19 alerts here.