This e-mail is directed to anyone who may be affected by President Trump’s recent Executive Order restricting entry for citizens and nationals from seven specified countries. I will provide guidance on what I know and outline the many areas that still remain unclear.
Please note that all this information is subject to change at any time, and it is best to obtain the most current information. Government agencies have not provided consistent guidelines on how to interpret the Order. The following is the best information I have at this time. Please excuse my haste in compiling this list.
Travel to/from U.S. as Lawful Permanent Resident/Green Card Holder
The White House reversed its earlier interpretation of the order and stated that Lawful Permanent Residents (Green Card holders) from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia, or Yemen will not be barred from entering for 90 days. However, the White House still indicated on January 29 that “anyone, including American citizens, who traveled from any of the seven predominantly Muslim countries identified in the order would be subjected to additional scrutiny.”
Therefore, for the next 90 days I strongly recommend against international travel for any admitted refugee, Lawful Permanent Resident, or non-immigrant here in the United States who is either from the above countries or who has been in the above countries since March 2011.
Update on 1/31/2017: Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has a website with Frequently Asked Questions. Please check this website periodically for updates. As of today, this is what CBP says:
Q: Does this Executive Order apply to green card holders from one of the seven countries listed?
A: Yes – if the green card holder (a Lawful Permanent Resident, or LPR) was out of the country at the time of the order’s signing, or travels out of the country after the order was signed. However, green card holders are eligible for national interest waivers consistent with the provisions of the Executive Order. It does not affect lawful permanent residents who are currently in the country.
Q: Does “from one of the seven countries” mean citizen, national or born in?
A: Travelers are being treated according to the travel document they present.
I interpret this to mean that if you were born, for example, in Iran, but have a German passport you will be treated as a German citizen and you will not be subject to the ban. However, anecdotal evidence indicates that some dual nationals/citizens are still being questioned on re-entry to the United States, even when they travel with a passport from a non-banned country.
Travel to and from U.S. on an immigrant visa, a temporary work visa or as a tourist
Clients who are applicants for immigrant visas (i.e. those who are consular processing abroad) should be advised of the State Department’s recently issued guidance, which states: If you are a citizen of one of these countries, please do not schedule a visa appointment or pay any visa fees at this time. If you already have an appointment scheduled, please DO NOT ATTEND. You will not be permitted entry to the Embassy/Consulate. For clients who are nationals of one of the affected countries and have applied to USCIS for a benefit that is not being adjudicated, attorneys should consider filing a mandamus action in federal court.
It appears the Executive Order will apply to citizens of the 7 countries who do not have green cards. Therefore you could be banned from re-entry to the United States if you present a passport from a banned country and are traveling on anything except a green card.
People who are outside the United States and seek to enter (or reenter) on nonimmigrant visas are currently not permitted to enter and will likely be turned away at the airport. People currently in the United States who have valid nonimmigrant visa status should not travel outside the country during their authorized periods of stay.
It appears individuals in this category will not be permitted to reenter, even if their visas have not expired. People with pending applications for adjustment of status who are currently in the United States and not maintaining nonimmigrant status should avoid traveling outside the country.
Students traveling on a passport from any of the 7 banned countries will be barred from re-entry, according to the CBP website.
Q: How will the EO affect college students from the barred countries, such as F1/J1/M1 visa holders? Are they included in the ban? What kind of guidance is being given to foreign students from these countries legally in the US?
A: F1/J1/M1 visas are currently temporarily suspended due to the executive order. Individuals who were in the U.S. at the time of the signing of the executive order are not affected by the order. However, individuals who were out of the country at the time of the signing, or who travel out of the country and attempt to return will not be allowed to return at this time. The Department is evaluating whether those who are precluded from returning as a result of the Executive Order will be considered to have maintained their status as F1 or M1 students.
Dual citizens who are not green card holders
According to CBP’s website, dual citizens who present a passport from a non-banned country will be admitted. However, anecdotal evidence suggests that while some dual citizens are being admitted without any problem, others are being turned away.
Again, the CBP website:
Q: Does this Executive Order apply to dual nationals of the seven countries who want to enter the U.S.? If they apply for entry based on their citizenship from one of the countries NOT on the list, will they be allowed entry?
A: Yes, but travelers are being treated according to the travel document they present. For example, if they present a Canadian passport, that is how they are processed for entry.
Refugees and their Relatives
Q: Can the exception for refugee admission be used in I-730 cases (family members following to join) for the petition of refugee/asylee relatives?
A: These cases will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
Immigrants within the US who have filed for a benefit from USCIS
According to some media reports, USCIS intends to put a hold on any application or petition filed for someone from one of the 7 banned countries. I will try to update you on this as more information becomes available.
Q: Has the EO impacted nationals of the affected countries who are currently residing within the United States?
A: On January 30, 2017, The Intercept reported that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has taken the position that all pending immigration benefits applications on behalf of nationals of the affected countries within the United States, including petitions for asylum, adjustment of status, and naturalization, would be suspended indefinitely as a result of the EO.
What to do if a Relative is Outside the US and needs to return during the 90-day ban
You may want to be strategic in where you re-enter the United States. These are suggestions, but in no way guarantees of admission, of where you may want to go through US Customs.
• Logan Airport in Boston has been ordered by a federal court not to follow the Executive Order for a brief 7-day period that could be extended. However, this could change at any time.
• SeaTac Airport in Seattle also has an emergency court order blocking deportation.
If you are abroad now or must travel outside the United States soon
Clients who must travel should be aware that you will likely be referred to secondary inspection upon returning to the United States and subject to enhanced screening. Such screening may include questions about your religious beliefs and political views, as well as requests for access to your social media accounts (e.g. Facebook or Twitter usernames and passwords).
Before you depart from the United States, I suggest contacting my office to obtain a signed Form G-28 (Notice of Entry of Appearance as Attorney or Accredited Representative), along with a legal opinion letter specifying the basis for reentry into the United States. Be aware that CBP officials may encourage you to relinquish your green card status or agree to return to your country of origin. I advise you not to sign any forms before consulting with my office.