On January 27, 2017 President Trump issued an Executive Order suspending immigrant and non-immigrant admissions to the U.S. for at least 90 days for individuals from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. The Order did not specifically define who was subject to the ban (i.e., the definition of “from”), leading to widespread confusion at ports of entry across the US, but since then DHS has stated that travelers will be treated according to the travel document (passport) they present at the border.
Since then Federal judges in several jurisdictions issued court rulings to stay the terms of the Executive Order that would have led to the removal of foreign nationals who arrived in the U.S. with a valid visa or status as a lawful permanent resident. These stays remain in effect but may be temporary. It is not clear if the Trump Administration accepts that it is bound by these decisions. These court orders also do not apply to airports with pre-clearance facilities (Dublin & Shannon, Ireland; Aruba; Freeport & Nassau, The Bahamas; Bermuda; Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates; and Calgary, Toronto, Edmonton, Halifax, Montreal, Ottawa, Vancouver, and Winnipeg, Canada). Nationals of the seven affected countries should avoid flying into the U.S. from these airports. These court orders do not mean that anyone arriving with a visa is guaranteed entry. People with non-immigrant (temporary) visa from those 7 countries will be denied entry unless they can show that their admission is in the national interest and they do not pose a security threat.
Citizens of the affected countries who hold dual citizenship with the U.S. should not be directly affected. Non-U.S. citizens who hold dual citizenship with the affected countries may be subject to the ban. CBP reserve the right to deny admission to any applicant deemed a threat to national security or public safety.
This ban may include individuals who have traveled to the designated countries as well, even if they do not hold a nationality of one of the affected countries.
Additional screening for those who have been in the affected countries should be expected, including the search of luggage, mobile phones, computers, and electronics, including social media pages for any anti-American communications or posts.
Green card holders returning to the U.S. after a short time abroad have the legal right to return to the U.S., barring exceptional circumstances. On January 29, 2017 the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security released a statement that “the entry of lawful permanent residents” is in the national interest.
We have heard stories of green card holders being pressured to give up their green cards at the border. Lawful Permanent Residents should not agree to abandon or relinquish their status or sign any forms during any detention by Customs and Border Protection. They should insist on speaking with an immigration attorney and appearing before an immigration judge.
The Executive Order does not limit the legal right of individuals who arrive in the U.S. who have been persecuted or who may face persecution if returned to their home country to claim asylum in the U.S.
U.S. Embassies and Consulates across the world have been instructed not to issue any nonimmigrant or immigrant visas to persons from the affected countries, consistent with the Executive Order.
Individuals from one of the affected countries who have a pending immigration petition or application (i.e. green card) will experience delays in the adjudication of their cases.
There is a possibility that the list of countries could be expanded. Those people from Muslim nations, or nations with security issues or poor relations with the US should not travel unless necessary.
This alert is not legal advice. Anyone who may be affected by this Executive Order or future orders that could affect them should speak with an attorney to make decisions based on individual circumstances. We will continue to release information and analysis as it becomes available.