On Friday, January 27, 2017, President Trump signed an executive order “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States.”   Several federal district courts ordered temporary halts to detention or removal from the United States of foreign nationals under the order pending a hearing of the issues.  The Department of Homeland Security has mostly exempted permanent residents (green card holders) from the order.  Following a weekend of turbulence as foreign nationals already in transit when the order was issued were detained upon arrival in the U.S.,  immigration officials abroad are implementing the order by cancelling visa interviews and preventing boarding of aircraft.  Suspension of USCIS adjudication of immigration benefit applications under the order is rumored but not yet announced.  Below is a summary of the order’s provisions and impacts edited from a statement published by the American Immigration Lawyers Association. Anyone potentially affected by the order is advised to reconsider travel plans before leaving the United States.

Suspension of U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP): The order suspends the USRAP for 120 days. Exceptions can be made on a case-by-case basis. In addition, for the current fiscal year, the order reduces the number of refugees to be admitted to the U.S. by more than half from an initial goal set by President Obama of 110,000 to 50,000, dropping U.S refugee admissions to the lowest level in a decade. Having already admitted 29,895 refugees as of January 20, 2017, the United States would only admit 20,000 more refugees for the remainder of the year.

Ban on Syrian Refugees: The order halts the processing and admission of Syrian refugees indefinitely, until the President determines that sufficient changes have been made to ensure that the admission of Syrian refugees is in the national interest.
Ban on Entry of Nationals of Muslim-Majority Countries: The order bans immigrant and nonimmigrant entries, for at least 90 days, for nationals “from”  Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. Other countries may be added and adjudications of other immigration benefits could be impacted.

             Who Does The Entry Ban Affect?

  • The Executive Order applies to all individuals “from” the 7 designated countries: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. That includes Legal Permanent Residents (LPRs)*, nonimmigrant visa holders**, immigrant visa holders, refugees, derivative asylees, Special Immigrant Visas (SIVs), etc.
  • Anyone who holds a passport from a designated country is considered as being “from” the designated country. This includes dual citizens who hold passports from a designated country, as well as a non-designated country.
  • CBP will be processing people based on how they present themselves at primary inspection.
  • The Executive Order does NOT apply to people who merely traveled to designated countries.

* Legal Permanent Residents: DHS has said it will admit LPRs on a case-by-case basis, and following a thorough security review. LPRs will be allowed to board planes. Their cases will be adjudicated at the port of entry.

** Nonimmigrants: Nonimmigrants will be allowed to withdraw their application for admission. Expedited removal will generally only be used for those individuals who do not wish to withdraw their application for admission.

Requires In-Person Interviews for Most Nonimmigrant Visa Applicants. The order suspends the Visa Interview Waiver Program (VIWP), requiring all nonimmigrant visa applicants to attend an interview unless an interview is not required by statute. The VIWP allowed consular officers to waive the interview requirement for applicants seeking to renew nonimmigrant visas within 12 months of expiration of the initial visa in the same classification.

Screening of all Immigration Benefits: The order directs federal agencies to develop screening standards and procedures for all immigration benefits to identify fraud and detect whether a person intends to do harm.

Biometric-Entry Exit: The order directs agencies to expedite the completion and implementation of a biometric entry-exit system and includes reporting requirements.
Please consult the White House website for the most recent announcements at:  https://www.whitehouse.gov/ briefing-room/presidential- actions/executive-orders

Please consult the White House website for the most recent announcements at:  https://www.whitehouse.gov/ briefing-room/presidential- actions/executive-orders