On Friday January 27th, 2017 President Donald J. Trump signed an executive order that suspends the entry of foreign nationals from the following seven countries; Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen to the United States for a period of 90 days, or through April 27, 2017. The order also reportedly suspends a worldwide program that exempted certain visa renewal applicants from consular interviews.

While the entry ban applies to nationals of the seven listed countries, it will not apply to those with dual nationality if they represent themselves as citizens of the country not listed on the ban. In addition, the entry ban may apply if an individual’s country of birth considers him or her to be a national.

Individuals who are not citizens of one of these countries but who are residents of or have other strong ties to any of these countries may also be barred from entering the United States. However, the language of the draft order is still unclear on this point.

The ban applies to “immigrants and nonimmigrants,” meaning that it covers those with a temporary visa (e.g., B-1, H-1B and L-1), or applicants for adjustment of status with advance parole. While lawful permanent residents (green card holders) who are nationals of the seven listed countries should not be subject to the ban provided there is an absence of derogatory information, which in this case refers to information affecting national securities.

In addition, if nationals of these countries possess the following visas, they will be allowed to enter the U.S.:

  • A1 & A2 (Government Officials and immediate family)
  • C2 (Travel to U.N.)
  • G1 & G2 (Representative & employees of international organizations)
  • G3 & G4 (Representatives to and employees of international organizations)
  • NATO

It appears that applications for adjustment of status on behalf of nationals of these countries will be held in suspension by USCIS until the ban is lifted.

The ban is expected to be in place for at least 90 days after the order is signed. However, it could be extended, and could be expanded to additional foreign countries.

In addition to the entry ban, the executive order reportedly restricts the visa interview waiver program that has been in place at U.S. consulates worldwide.  The waiver program allows some applicants to renew their visas by submitting their visa renewal documents via mail and exempts them from an in-person consular interview. At this point, the visa interveiw waiver program appears to be restricted to applicants who are renewing a visa within the same classification whose visas are still valid or expired within the last 12 months, or applicants who are under 14 or over 79 years of age. However, it is uncertain which U.S. consulates in which countries are restricting the waiver program, so applicants should check with their appropriate U.S. consulate beforehand.

The order also calls for the development of potentially expansive changes to screening processes that would apply to all immigration programs. Details are expected in forthcoming communications from the Administration.

Also, due to a federal government hiring freeze, visa applicants, as well as those submitting immigration petitions and applications to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and the U.S. Department of Labor, should expect slower processing times.

While we wait for further news, we would like to advise our clients from the above listed 7 countries on the following:

  • Those in the United States as nonimmigrants, adjustment applicants or lawful permanent residents should avoid international travel for the duration of the ban in order to ensure that they are not denied reentry. Those who have departed or will depart the United States should expect to be denied reentry while the ban is in effect.
  • Those planning future trips to the United States should be prepared for the possibility of an extension of the travel ban beyond April 27, 2017 and a resulting delay in their travel.

Please note that due to the constant changes, the above information is liable to change. Thus, we will do our best to keep our clients updated with any news regarding any new developments in the current immigration changes.  This alert is for informational purposes only. If you have any questions about the executive order, please contact our office.

On a personal note, our firm is extremely upset with this ban and we will fight to protect our clients’ interests to the extent possible.

 

Last updated February 2, 2017