4/22 Proclamation Suspends Entry of Immigrants For 60 Days; @StateDept Already Suspended Routine Visa Services on 3/18

 

 

State/CA released this on April 23, 2020: Proclamation Suspending Entry of Immigrants Who Present Risk to the U.S. Labor Market During the Economic Recovery Following the COVID-19 Outbreak

On Wednesday, April 22, President Trump signed a proclamation suspending entry into the United States of certain immigrants who present risk to the U.S. labor market during the economic recovery following the COVID-19 outbreak.  The proclamation is effective at 11:59 p.m. EDT on Thursday, April 23 and expires in 60 days, unless continued by the President.  

U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents, and those holding valid immigrant visas on the effective date of the Proclamation, are not subject to the proclamation.  The Proclamation is not retroactive. No valid visas will be revoked under this Proclamation.  The proclamation provides exceptions to its restrictions for certain categories of immigrants, including: certain healthcare professionals, aliens seeking to enter the United States pursuant to an EB-5 investor visa, spouses and children (categories IR2, CR2, IR3, IH3, IR4, IH4) of U.S. citizens, members of the United States Armed Forces and any spouse and children of a member of the United States Armed Forces, and aliens seeking to enter the United States pursuant to an Afghan and Iraqi Special Immigrant Visa.  Please refer to the proclamation for a full list of exceptions.   Routine visas services have been suspended at U.S. posts worldwide, but as resources allow, embassies and consulates will continue to provide emergency and mission critical visa services for applicants who are not subject to this presidential proclamation. 

The full text of the presidential proclamation is available on the White House website at:  

https://www.whitehouse.gov/presidential-actions/proclamation-suspending-entry-immigrants-present-risk-u-s-labor-market-economic-recovery-following-covid-19-outbreak/

See immigrant visa categories here.
Per Sec 2.(b)  of the Proclamation.
The suspension and limitation on entry pursuant to section 1 of this proclamation shall not apply to:

(i)     any lawful permanent resident of the United States;

(ii)    any alien seeking to enter the United States on an immigrant visa as a physician, nurse, or other healthcare professional; to perform medical research or other research intended to combat the spread of COVID-19; or to perform work essential to combating, recovering from, or otherwise alleviating the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak, as determined by the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Homeland Security, or their respective designees;  and any spouse and unmarried children under 21 years old of any such alien who are accompanying or following to join the alien;

(iii)   any alien applying for a visa to enter the United States pursuant to the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program;

(iv)    any alien who is the spouse of a United States citizen;

(v)     any alien who is under 21 years old and is the child of a United States citizen, or who is a prospective adoptee seeking to enter the United States pursuant to the IR-4 or IH-4 visa classifications;

(vi)    any alien whose entry would further important United States law enforcement objectives, as determined by the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Homeland Security, or their respective designees, based on a recommendation of the Attorney General or his designee;

(vii)   any member of the United States Armed Forces and any spouse and children of a member of the United States Armed Forces;

(viii)  any alien seeking to enter the United States pursuant to a Special Immigrant Visa in the SI or SQ classification, subject to such conditions as the Secretary of State may impose, and any spouse and children of any such individual; or

(ix)    any alien whose entry would be in the national interest, as determined by the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Homeland Security, or their respective designees.

Note that the  State Department already suspended routine visa services in most countries on March 18, 2020.

If your routine visa services are still open during this pandemic, please tell us why (Updated)

@StateDept Suspends All PCS Travel Through May 31

A couple weeks ago, the State Department issued a guidance cable to all Department personnel concerning permanent change of station (PCS) travel and home leave through May 31, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Citing the “myriad uncertainties” and “travel and logistics restrictions”, the State Department  suspended all overseas and domestic PCS travel with very limited exceptions, effective through May 31. Transition from one Washington, D.C. assignment to another does not appear to be affected by this suspension.
This PCS suspension will reportedly be reviewed on May 20 and that this “period may be extended if the situation does not improve.”
The guidance says that exceptions to the suspension of PCS travel may be considered for certain employees like those on curtailments related to health, or mission critical employees (approved by bureau assistant secretary for certain countries, or by the Under Secretary for Management for CDC Level 3 countries or State Department Travel Advisory for Health Level 4 countries), or employees on direct to post transfers.
Diplomatic Security and medical personnel are considered mission critical and those employees are reportedly expected to PCS to their next overseas assignment, unless the Chief of Mission (COM) at the receiving post determines that “health and safety issues outweigh security concerns and prevents their arrival to post.” DS personnel are also told that they should be ready to remain at Post beyond their tour end-date if deemed necessary by their Chiefs of Mission.
The guidance encouraged employees to take their home leave between domestic and overseas assignments. At the conclusion of the home leave, employees are told to “be prepared to telework for their onward assignment at their home leave location.” The guidance further says that all employees are expected to work with their onward post and/or bureau to be assigned suitable duties for telework/remote work following Department protocols. Reiterating a prior cable, the guidance explains what supervisor can grant “weather and safety leave” to U.S. Direct Hires for those regular duty hours for which there is insufficient remote work to assign.
Additional guidance is reportedly expected to be published in the near future.

Surviving the Outbreak, Reflections on ConGen Wuhan’s Evacuation and Life in Quarantine (Via @StateMag)

 

Featured in the  April 2020 issue of State Magazine (published by the State Department’s Bureau of Human Resources) is an article by Russell J. Westergard, the deputy consular chief at the U.S. Consulate General in Wuhan, China.
Surviving the Outbreak, Reflections on ConGen Wuhan’s evacuation and life in quarantine

By mid-October 2019, the dedicated team at the U.S. Consulate General in Wuhan knew that the city had been struck by what was thought to be an unusually vicious flu season. The disease worsened in November. When city officials began to close public schools in mid-December to control the spread of the disease, the team passed the word to Embassy Beijing and continued monitoring. The possibility of a new viral outbreak was always on the consulate’s radar. Still, the working assumption in every scenario had always been that, as in past outbreaks like H1N1 (known as swine flu), it would appear in rural areas first and then spread to major urban centers across China. 

When the Chinese government announced on December 29th that the new and novel coronavirus (COVID-19) had been identified and traced to a live animal market near the U.S. consulate, it caught the team’s attention. Four hectic weeks later, ConGen Wuhan closed under ordered departure with the consulate team pulling off what some people involved have since described as a minor miracle. Consulate staff found themselves at the airport of a paralyzed city preparing to evacuate family members and other U.S. citizens from what would turn out to be ground zero of a deadly global pandemic.

Fast forward to the second week in February. As the ConGen Wuhan team, family members, and the rest of the 195 passengers on board that first flight from Wuhan concluded their 14-day quarantine at the March Air Reserve Base (ARB) in Southern California, the joy and a collective sigh of relief were audible.

Read in full here.

 

Foreign Service Posts Around the World: Repatriation Flights (Photos)

According to the State Department, as of April 24, 2020, 3:00 p.m. EDT, it has coordinated the repatriation of 67,448 Americans on 716 flights from 124 countries and territories. Below are some photos from some foreign service posts who did repatriation flights in April (not an exhaustive list).
During the April 22 briefing, agency officials note that they’re “tracking something like 17,000 people who have expressed some degree of interest in maybe getting our help” but also said that the number in the thousands is “not all that meaningful” as  “there are others who have been registered by, for example, their children in the United States saying, “My aging parents are in country X,” Peru or wherever, “and they should be getting out of there,” and in fact those aging parents have no particular interest or desire to leave.”

Headless Chickens Squawk Race: WHO to Blame! WHO to Blame! #50363DeathsandCounting

 

Around the World in April: U.S. Ambassadors in the Time of Coronavirus

 

Trump to Nominate Career Diplomat Julie D. Fisher to be U.S. Ambassador to Belarus

On April 20, 2020, the WH announced the president’s intent to nominate career diplomat Julie D. Fisher, of Tennessee, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Belarus. The WH released the following brief bio:

Julie Fisher, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, class of Counselor, currently serves as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Western Europe and the European Union in the State Department’s Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs.  She also served on special assignment as Chargé d’Affaires a.i. of the U.S. Embassy in Russia.

Previously, Ms. Fisher was the Deputy Chief of Mission of the U.S. Mission to NATO; the Chief of Staff to the State Department’s Deputy Secretary for Management and Resources; and the Director of the State Department Operations Center.

Earlier assignments include service as Deputy Director of the Private Office of the Secretary General of NATO and, before that, as Counselor for Political and Economic Affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Tbilisi, Georgia.

Ms. Fisher earned her B.A. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and an M.P.P. from Princeton University.  She speaks Russian, French, and Georgian.

According to history.state.gov, the last Senate confirmed ambassador to Belarus was Karen Brevard Stewart (1952–)  who served from October 24, 2006–March 12, 2008.  Between then and now, we had six chargé d’affaires who served in Belarus, with CDA Michael Scanlan who served  almost four years from 2009-2013. If confirmed, DAS Fisher would be the first U.S. Ambassador to Minsk since 2008.

 

Related posts:

Trump to Nominate Banker Erik Bethel to be U.S. Ambassador to Panama

Updated: 4/23/2020

On April 20, 2020, the WH announced the president’s intent to nominate Erik Paul Bethel, of Florida, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Panama. The WH released the following brief bio:

Mr. Bethel recently completed his term as United States Alternate Executive Director of the World Bank.  In that role, Mr. Bethel spearheaded a number of initiatives, including streamlining World Bank operations and promoting new technologies such as machine learning, artificial intelligence, and blockchain.

A financial professional with more than 25 years of private equity and investment banking experience in Latin America and Asia, Mr. Bethel is a recognized expert on Chinese investment and financial activities in the Latin American region.  He began his career in New York covering Brazil, Colombia, and Mexico.  Subsequently he moved to Mexico City as an investment banker and later to Shanghai, China as a private equity professional.  He has served on the Board of Governors of Opportunity International, a non-profit organization that provides financial services to people living in poverty in developing countries.

Mr. Bethel is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, where he was an Olmsted Scholar, a Cox Fund Scholar, and a Battalion Commander.  He earned an MBA from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, where he was a Milken Scholar.  He speaks Spanish, Portuguese, and Mandarin.

Based on AFSA’s ambassador historical appointments by post since 1960, 10 of 17 previous ambassadors to Panama were career diplomats; 7 or 41.2% were political appointees.  The most recent appointee to this position was John D. Feeley (1961–), a career diplomat who served from February 16, 2016–March 9, 2018. (see Former Ambassador John Feeley’s Parting Shot: Why I could no longer serve this president).
The last political appointee to this position was Linda Ellen Watt (1951–) who served from December 17, 2002–June 3, 2005 under the George W. Bush Administration. (This record was corrected, see below).
The last political appointee to this position was Simon Ferro (1953–) who served from February 26, 1999–March 1, 2001 during the Clinton tenure.