President Trump’s Executive Order Banning Travel for Nationals of Seven Muslim Countries

As many of you may have heard, on Friday, January 27, 2017, President Trump issued an Executive Order stating that foreign nationals of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen may not enter the U.S. for at least 90 days; refugees from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen may not enter the U.S. for at least 120 days; and refugees from Syria may not enter the U.S. until further notice. Those who hold a visa to the U.S. may not use it, and new visas cannot be issued. However, this has been subject to various agency actions as well as Federal Court actions.

At first, the government said this ban includes lawful permanent residents or “green card” holders. On Sunday, January 29, 2017, the government clarified that lawful permanent residents would be allowed to return to the U.S. unless they receive “significant derogatory information indicating a serious threat to public safety and welfare.”

On February 2, 2017, the Department of State confirmed that travel for “dual nationals from any country with a valid U.S. visa in a passport of an unrestricted country” is not restricted. We strongly suggest that dual nationals traveling to the U.S. present only unrestricted passports.

In addition, on February 2, 2017, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, in their “Frequently Asked Questions,” state that “[t]he entry of Iraqi nationals with a valid Special Immigrant Visa to the U.S. is deemed to be in the national interest and such individuals can apply for admission to the United States, absent the receipt of significant derogatory information indicating a serious threat to public safety and welfare…”

Individuals already in the U.S. from one of the seven countries with valid visas are permitted to remain, provided they do not violate the laws of the U.S. There is no indication that they would be prevented from changing or extending status.

As a consequence of Present Trump’s Executive Order banning travel for nationals of seven Muslim countries, various individuals, states and organizations have filed federal law suits around the country. In particular, on February 3, 2017, U.S. District Senior Judge James Robart, in Seattle, Washington issued a nationwide temporary restraining order, prohibiting the federal government from enforcing the Muslim travel ban restrictions contained in President Trump’s January 27, 2017 Executive Order. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals denied the Department of Justice’s request for an immediate stay of Judge Robart’s restraining order, and has ordered briefs to be filed. It is anticipated that the Ninth Circuit will issue a decision in the very near future, and that the case may reach the Supreme Court. Other courts have issued similar rulings.

As a result, currently there appear to be no formal travel restrictions on immigrants, nonimmigrants, and refugees from any of the impacted countries (Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen). Provisionally revoked visas have been reversed and are valid for travel, provided the holder is otherwise eligible. Those who arrived after the Executive Order was issued and had their visas physically cancelled as a result of the Executive Order will not need to apply for a new visa, and absent any other issues will receive a waiver upon their arrival to the United States. There have been reports of delays upon on arrival to the United States, but this does not appear to be the standard.

Further, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has confirmed that it continues to adjudicate filed cases normally, to include those individuals from any of the impacted countries. There have been unofficial reports of delays.

Interpretation and implementation of this Executive Order is constantly changing, not only based on the outcome of various litigation, but also as the result of clarification provided by the various agencies involved.

As a result, we strongly discourage all foreign nationals from any of the seven countries from traveling outside of the U.S. for any reason, to include travel to Canada and/or Mexico. Even short term business trips could result in a bar to entry to the U.S., if the Executive Order is again given effect. As a precaution, lawful permanent residents who are nationals from one of the seven countries should not travel outside the United States, as they may be subjected to significant scrutiny.

We will track any and all new developments and we will make every effort to update the information contained in our blog so that you have the most up-to-date general information.

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