This morning, the new Executive Order relating to refugees and individuals from Muslim-majority countries was signed. Here are the basics of that Order:
1. The Order is effective at 12:01 A.M., Eastern Standard Time, on March 16, 2017 and the previous order will be rescinded on that date.
2. Individuals from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen (Iraq is no longer part of the entry ban) will not be allowed to enter the U.S. for 90 days if: they are outside of the U.S. and did not have a valid visa at 5 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on January 27, 2017 and do not have a valid visa on the effective date of the Order. Stated another way, any individual who had a valid visa either on January 27, 2017 (prior to 5:00 p.m.) or holds a valid visa on the effective date of the Order may seek entry to the U.S. According to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), “no visas will be revoked solely based on” the Order. Individuals whose visas were previously canceled or revoked solely because of the prior Executive Order will be entitled to a travel document confirming that they may seek entry. Remember: even with a valid visa, individuals must demonstrate that they are admissible to the U.S. — the final decision on whether someone is granted entry to the U.S. is made upon arrival at a port of entry by a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer.
3. The Order does not apply to Lawful Permanent Residents (LPRs, green card holders) from the six countries, nor does it apply to certain nonimmigrant visas (diplomatic, NATO, etc.). It also does not apply to students and exchange visitors (F, J, M visas) currently in the U.S. or those seeking to enter with valid visas. However, it does apply to dual nationals who attempt to enter the U.S. with a passport from one of the six countries. Thus, an Iranian citizen with dual Canadian citizenship should use a Canadian passport to attempt to enter the U.S.
4. The Order does not apply to returning refugees and asylees, meaning those individuals who were previously granted asylum or refugee status in the U.S., and are returning to the U.S. on approved travel documents (e.g., refugee travel documents). It also does not apply to individuals granted advance parole, withholding of removal or protection under the Convention Against Torture (under no circumstances should these individuals be traveling outside of the U.S. prior to consulting with an immigration attorney!).
5. According to DHS, the Order applies to “nationals and citizens” of the six countries, but does not clarify whether it applies to individuals born in one of the six countries who are not considered a national or citizen by that country. Presumably, the Order will apply to a Palestinian traveling with a Syrian travel document.
6. Some individuals from these countries may be granted waivers to enter the U.S. or to obtain a visa, during the suspension, on a case-by-case basis if the individual demonstrates that the denial of entry would cause undue hardship to them during this suspension period, and that the individual’s entry would not pose a threat to national security, and would be in the national interest of the U.S. As of today, the process for applying for this waiver is not yet known.
7. DHS will continue to adjudicate applications for adjustment of status (green cards) and naturalization (citizenship) filed by individuals from the six countries.
8. 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. The Order does not apply to refugees who have already been scheduled to travel to the U.S. prior to the effective date of the Order. Similar to the waiver authority mentioned above for visas, individual refugees may be allowed into the U.S. on a case-by-case basis so long as their entry is in the national interest and would not pose a threat to the “security or welfare” of the U.S. The language regarding the categorical ban of Syrian refugees and prioritization of religious minority refugees has been removed from the new Order.
9. Once the USRAP program resumes, refugee admissions will not exceed 50,000 for fiscal year 2017. So far, about 37,000 refugees have already been resettled in the U.S.
10. Within 20 days of the effective date of the Order, 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 50 days of notification. At the end of the 50 days, if those countries do not comply with sharing information about their nationals, or have an adequate plan to do so, the U.S. may prohibit entry of individuals from those countries.
11. Although Iraq is no longer part of the 90 day entry suspension, “an application by an Iraqi national for a visa, admission, or other immigration benefit should be subjected to thorough review,” including consideration of whether the individual “has connections with ISIS or other terrorist organizations.” Iraqis should expect possible delays in their applications.
12. Multiple federal agencies will implement a program increasing security checks to identify individuals “who seek to enter the U.S. on a fraudulent basis, who support terrorism, violent extremism, acts of violence towards any group or class of people within the United States, or who present a risk of harm subsequent to their entry.”
13. With exceptions, the Visa Waiver Interview Program (IWP), which allowed some individuals to renew their visas without an interview, will be suspended. This means that most individuals renewing their 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.