The White House announced yesterday that President Trump is preparing to issue an executive order which will stop immigration to the US. This would close the country’s borders to anyone wishing to travel to the US to live or work. In a Twitter message, the President stated that the move was designed to protect the jobs and livelihoods of US citizens and that it was temporary. The strategy behind this far-reaching policy appears to be the safeguarding of the US labour market from foreign workers once the coronavirus pandemic begins to abate and the US economy begins the long road to recovery. The move also dove-tails with the Trump administration’s belief that the US is moving beyond the worst phase of the pandemic and that the country should start to reopen. The US economy has slumped badly as a result of the shut-down, with unemployment rising sharply nation-wide and many states seeking an end to the lockdown as soon as possible.
The coronavirus pandemic has already impacted US immigration policy, with the Trump administration using the health emergency to stop undocumented migrants and asylum seekers from coming to the US. An executive order in the terms above, however, would mark a serious escalation in the protectionism being proposed by the White House. It has been reported that temporary suspensions on issuing green cards and work visas could be implemented within the very near future. This would effectively shut down the US’ immigration system, although debate continues in respect of the exact legal provisions which would allow the President to do so.
Although President Trump’s proposed temporary ban on immigration appears to extend across the board, it has been reported that workers in certain key industries could be exempt. This immigration freeze comes in the wake of a significant drop in the number of people seeking to move to the US, with figures suggesting a drop of some 25% in the immigration numbers from 2016 to 2019.
The coronavirus pandemic has caused immense damage to economies around the world. In light of the well-documented and positive impact made by foreign workers to the economic wellbeing of many countries, we shall wait to see whether President Trump’s drastic actions will benefit the US or whether they will only exacerbate the immediate and medium-term problems, the US now faces.
In contrast to the US’ proposed plans to halt immigration, the UK remains open for migrants to enter, extend or switch visa category in order to live and work in the UK. The UK Government has further introduced unprecedented business support measures to provide funding and relief to employers, workers and self-employed individuals throughout the country in a bid to combat unemployment during the COVID-19 pandemic. Chancellor Rishi Sunak has made clear that the UK Government seeks to support existing small and large businesses, whilst simultaneously encouraging innovation and entrepreneurship, particularly in the Technology and Science industries. The Budget 2020 has highlighted the UK Government’s intention to increase R&D investment within these fields to £22 billion per year by 2024-25.
In addition, there have been numerous funds and measures which have been rolled out since March 2020 to aide migrants such as Tier 1 Entrepreneurs, Tier 2 (General) Migrants, and Tier 4 Students to continue to remain in the UK lawfully without risk to their livelihoods and path towards settlement. There have also been significant concessions introduced for nurses, doctors and other frontline medical staff in recognition of their value and importance at this time, allowing them to remain in the UK and to continue working here. It seems that the UK Government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic is a far cry from that of the US.
The UK Government made an announcement on 8 April 2020, encouraging UK businesses to also consider implementing and planning for the proposed immigration system that is due to take effect from 1 January 2021. This indicates an intention to continue to encourage immigration and inward investment. The revamped immigration system seeks to champion highly skilled migrants within the Technology, Science and IT fields, as the UK looks to secure its position in the global economy.
Presently, all visa routes for the UK remain open as usual to allow individuals to work, invest, study or join family in the UK. EU nationals and their family members are also able to travel freely to the UK until 31 December 2020, during which time they will be able to obtain confirmation of their status under the EU Settlement Scheme. Although delays may occur with the application process in light of the fact that visa application centres around the world are temporarily closed, the UK continues to welcome migrants at this time.
Gherson has extensive experience in all types of immigration applications, including Investor visas, Innovator visas, Sponsor Licences, Global Talent visas, EU applications, and Private Life applications. We would be happy to provide further clarification on the processes and requirements for each of these routes, or any other immigration category.
Please note that the information in this blog is current at the date and time of posting. Please note that Gherson is not authorised to provide specific investment advice, however we are able to connect you with specialists within this area if required.
Please note that some visa application centres have been temporarily closed around the world due to efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19. Gherson are closely monitoring this and are able to advise accordingly. We are happy to assist with the preparation and compilation of your visa application to ensure that there is no undue delay in the submission process once visa application centres re-open.
The information in this blog is for general information purposes only and does not purport to be comprehensive or to provide legal advice. Whilst every effort is made to ensure the information and law is current as of the date of publication it should be stressed that, due to the passage of time, this does not necessarily reflect the present legal position. Gherson accepts no responsibility for loss which may arise from accessing or reliance on information contained in this blog. For formal advice on the current law please don’t hesitate to contact Gherson. Legal advice is only provided pursuant to a written agreement, identified as such, and signed by the client and by or on behalf of Gherson.
Consultant and trainee solicitor in our Corporate Team
Immigration consultant and trainee solicitor in our Private Client Department