Please refer to the updated version of this blog post!

 

The Executive Order relating to refugees and individuals from Muslim-majority countries was signed yesterday afternoon. While there are still many unanswered questions, some of the major points are as follows:

  1. Effective immediately, entry to the U.S. by most immigrants and nonimmigrants from the seven targeted countries (Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen) has been suspended for a minimum of 90 days. As of this morning, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) spokesperson has confirmed that the ban includes Lawful Permanent Residents (LPRs, green card holders), but there have been mixed reports of how LPRs are actually being treated at individual airports. Although it does not apply to U.S. citizens, the ban does include individuals from the seven countries who also hold dual nationality with another country (for example, Iraqi with Canadian citizenship).
  2. The Order does not define what it means to be “from” a country. If an individual is already in the U.S. and is “from” one of the above countries (including, for example, Palestinians from Syria), the best option is to consult with an immigration attorney before traveling outside of the U.S. 
  3. It is not clear whether this suspension will also apply to applications and petitions filed by individuals from the seven targeted countries which are pending in the U.S.
  4. During the next 30 days, the DHS will create a list of countries which “do not provide accurate information” for proper vetting of its nationals to the U.S., and the Department of State (DOS) will request that those countries begin to do so within 60 days of notification. At the end of the 60 days, if those countries do not comply, it is likely that most of their nationals will be prohibited from entering the U.S., maybe permanently.
  5. Some individuals from these countries may still be allowed into the U.S., or obtain immigration benefits, during these periods, on a case-by-case basis.
  6. Multiple federal agencies will implement a program increasing security checks and a values test for individuals seeking U.S. immigration benefits (including an evaluation of the individual’s “likelihood of becoming a positively contributing member of society” and “ability to make contributions to the national interest” of the U.S.).
  7. Refugees from Syria will no longer be allowed into the U.S. until further notice, on the basis that their entry “is detrimental to the interests of the United States.”
  8. In addition, the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) will be suspended for 120 days while the U.S. examines how to increase its already extreme vetting procedures. This means refugees from any country, and includes individuals who have already been approved for refugee resettlement in the U.S. Once the program resumes, refugees will only be allowed into the U.S. if multiple federal agencies have decided that extreme vetting has been sufficient.
  9. Once the USRAP program resumes, priority will be given to individuals seeking refugee status on the basis of religious-based persecution, if they are a member of a minority religion in their country. 
  10. During the 120 temporary suspension, individual refugees may still be allowed in the U.S. on a case-by-case basis. In addition, individuals seeking refugee status based on minority religion-based persecution may still continue to be processed.
  11. The Visa Waiver Interview Program (IWP), which allowed some individuals to renew their visas without an interview, is suspended. This means that anyone applying for a nonimmigrant visa must attend an in-person interview.

 

 

This blog does not provide legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. If you need legal advice, please contact an attorney directly.

As U.S. immigration law once again goes from bad to worse, here are some very general guidelines (not legal advice for your specific situation; please don’t ask me questions about your case on a public website):

  • Everyone’s legal situation is different – if you are not a U.S. citizen, speak to an experienced immigration attorney about your particular situation. Please do not consult Google, Facebook, or your friend’s cousin, who you think had the same exact situation.
  • Do not follow general legal advice being circulated by well-intentioned people – the suggestions given may not work for your situation and, in fact, may end up harming your legal status or ability to return to the U.S. in the future.
  • If you want to travel outside of the U.S., and you are not a U.S. citizen: don’t. Speak to an experienced immigration attorney first. If you are from one of the targeted countries, and have a U.S. nonimmigrant or immigrant visa, you may not be able to return.
  • If you are already outside of the U.S. and are planning to re-enter with your green card or a visa, contact an experienced immigration attorney from abroad to prepare for any potential risks at the airport.
  • Visas can be cancelled at any time, whether you are inside or outside of the U.S. – if you are a vulnerable person (Arab, from a Muslim-majority country, have any arrests or interactions with law enforcement, etc.), consult with an experienced immigration attorney to clarify backup plan possibilities.
  • Do not go to USCIS/ICE/DHS, etc. to ask about your legal status/case/visa, or if you have been summoned for an “interview,” if you have not consulted with an experienced immigration attorney first – these are federal government agencies, not your attorneys. 
  • Remember: there is no certainty around what is happening and will continue to happen in the next few days, weeks, or years ahead. However, we have been through really hard times before in U.S. immigration law, and one of the lessons was: before you make any decisions, know your specific options.

 

This blog does not provide legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. If you need legal advice, please contact an attorney directly.