January 31, 2017
On January 27, President Trump signed an Executive Order titled “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States” pertaining to all individuals from 7 designated countries: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. That order is being challenged in court, but remains in effect.
Who Is Affected?
Anyone in the process of applying for admission to the United States as: 1) a refugee from any country; or 2) a nonimmigrant (including H-1B, L-1, etc) or immigrant who is a citizen of (or holds a passport from) the following countries: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. This includes Legal Permanent Residents of the United States and dual nationals who hold passports from a designated country, as anyone who holds a passport from a designated country is considered as being “from” the designated country. This remains true even if a dual citizen holds any passport from a designated country, even if they hold another passport from a non-designated country.
How are Refugee applicants affected?
The executive order bans all refugee admissions to the U.S. for 120 days (and bans Syrian refugees indefinitely), purportedly to allow DHS to beef up the already-extreme vetting procedure for refugee applicants. According to media reports, this ban took immediate effect, stranding some refugees in airports, separated from their families. Exceptions to the ban may be negotiated for Christian and Jewish refugees, but at the present time there is no mechanism for this.
Why are Refugee admissions being banned?
The stated reason is to allow the Department of Homeland Security to review and improve the vetting process for refugees. However, the current refugee vetting process is already extremely thorough (it takes 18-24 months, and involves background checks performed by multiple intelligence agencies)
How are Iranian, Iraqi, Libyan, Somalian, Sudanese, Syrian, and Yemeni citizens and passport holders from these countries (including B-1/B-2 visitors, H-1B and L nonimmigrants, and others) affected?
Any immigrants or non-immigrants from the above-listed countries who were outside of the United States on January 27th are being denied re-entry to the U.S. for at least the next 90 days. Exceptions will not be made for those who have jobs and/or families in the U.S., meaning that many will be stranded from their families, and/or at risk of losing a job they are prevented from returning to. This blanket ban will be contested in court, so check back frequently for updates.
How are Legal Permanent Residents (green card holders) affected?
Green card holders from the affected countries are NOT being automatically re-admitted to the U.S. Rather, they are being detained and thoroughly interviewed upon attempted re-entry, and then admitted or not on a case-by-case basis. Permanent Residents who are outside of the U.S. should contact their immigration attorney before attempting re-entry.
How are those in the U.S. affected?
If you are from an affected country or are a refugee, do not leave the U.S., and contact the attorneys at LHSC immediately. Leaving the United States without first consulting your attorney is not recommended, as future re-entry cannot be guaranteed, even if you have a valid visa or travel document.
These executive actions are already being challenged in court, though so far the stay/injunction only applies to those who were stuck in transit as the ban went into effect. Those outside of the U.S. who have yet to attempt re-entry are still subject to the ban as of the morning of January 29th. However, additional lawsuits are already being prepared.
What is LHSC’s advice?
If you are an employer, do not send any foreign nationals who fall into the above categories outside of the country for any reason, including business trips. If you are a foreign national who falls into the above categories, DO NOT TRAVEL OUTSIDE OF THE U.S. FOR ANY REASON.
What if I am from a non-designated country or have other concerns?
Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have concerns about upcoming travel plans. This is a very fluid area, and the attorneys at LHSC will be following all developments carefully.