On January 27, 2017, President Trump signed an Executive Order relating to visa issuance, screening procedures, and refugees. The Executive Order is titled “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States.”
Key points of the order provide for:
• A 120-day suspension of the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program.
• An indefinite ban on Syrian refugees.
• A 90-day suspension on anyone arriving from seven Muslim-majority countries, including Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen. (Some visa categories, such as diplomats and the UN, are not included in the suspension.)
• A suspension of the Visa Interview Waiver Program, which allows consular officers to exempt some applicants from face-to-face interviews if they are seeking to renew their nonimmigrant visas within a year of expiry. (This is not to be confused with the Visa Waiver Program/ESTA.)
This Executive Order applies to Legal Permanent Residents of the United States (or “LPRs,” also known as “green card holders”), as well as all other individuals who are “from” designated countries, including temporary nonimmigrants and refugees. It also applies to individuals who are dual nationals. It does not appear to apply to people who merely traveled to designated countries. There does appear to be some limited discretion for DHS to admit LPRs to the U.S. on a case-by-case basis following a thorough security review.
At this time, Berardi Immigration Law recommends that our current and prospective clients refrain from traveling outside of the United States if you were born in, or have recently traveled to, a country listed in the Executive Order. Please contact our office prior to any international travel to understand how this Order may impact you and your family. This advisory applies to Lawful Permanent Residents, nonimmigrants (L-1, H-1B, TN, O-1, E-1/E-2, refugees, parolees, etc.), and dual citizens alike.
We also remind all of our clients that the suspension of the Visa Interview Waiver Program may impact consular services and visa processing times around the world. Longer wait times for a visa interview and subsequent passport return are to be expected.
Under the 90-day suspension order, travel is not automatically reinstated. Instead, DHS is required to report whether countries have provided information “needed … for the adjudication of any … benefit under the INA … to determine that the individual seeking the benefit is who the individual claims to be and is not a security or public-safety threat.” If not, the country would have 60 days to comply, or the travel ban may become indefinite.
There are many additional questions raised by the Executive Order, and we will continue to release information and analysis as it becomes available. Please contact Berardi Immigration Law for further information.