• Arzu Jamilova

Implications of COVID-19 for E-2 status holders in the US & prospective E-2 visa applicants

1. Who was affected by the order?

On April 23, 2020 US President Donald Trump has signed an executive order temporarily suspending the entry to the United States of several categories of immigrants for 60 days. The purpose of the order is to protect American workers in an economy affected by the COVID-19 outbreak, at a time of high unemployment and economic uncertainty.

In practical terms, the order affects a limited group of prospective U.S. immigrants due to the restrictions already in effect as a consequence of the coronavirus pandemic. Previous executive orders have indefinitely suspended all routine immigrant and nonimmigrant visa services at all U.S. Embassies and U.S. Consulates. The U.S. borders with Canada and Mexico are closed for non-essential travel until at least May 20, 2020.

The order mainly affects foreign nationals who are outside the U.S. on the effective date of the order and have not been issued a valid immigrant visa or similar U.S. travel document by a U.S. Consulate

The measure is expected to stop the practice of green card holders sponsoring their extended families for permanent US residency. The order also suspends the Diversity Visa Lottery, which issues about 50,000 green cards annually.

2. Who is an exempt from the order?

The order makes an exception for the following categories:

  • Foreign nationals already holding a valid U.S. immigrant visa or similar travel document.

  • American citizens' spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21.

  • Green card applicants already living and working in the US,

  • Foreign nationals seeking entry to work as doctors, nurses, or other healthcare professionals as well as their spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21.

  • Nonimmigrant visa holders in the H-1B, L-1, O-1, E-2 categories

  • Foreign nationals applying for the EB-5 immigrant investor visa program

  • Foreign nationals whose entry is in the U.S. national interest

  • Members of the U.S. military etc.

3. How the order will affect non-immigrants in the E-2 visa category and prospective E-2 visa applicants?

The immigration suspension order signed on April 23, 2020 by President Trump does not affect non-immigrants who are currently in the United States in the E-2 Visa category. They are allowed to continue developing and directing their E-2 businesses and may apply for extension or change of status any time.

However, due to previous temporary suspension of the premium processing service by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services in connection with COVID-19 for all Form I-129 and I-140 petitions until further notice, non-immigrants in the E-2 category seeking extension or change of their status will have to wait for the approval according to the regular processing timeframe.

Due to the COVID-19 outbreak prospective E-2 visa applicants will not be able to submit their visa applications until routine immigrant and non-immigrant visa services at U.S. Embassies and U.S. Consulates are resumed and non-essential travel is allowed.

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