This past week, the new Trump Administration issued three executive orders relating to immigration, with more potentially on the horizon that could affect our clients. We are able to confirm that Trump has issued orders aimed at tightening illegal entry, increasing removal priorities, and a ban on travel and visas for certain nationals.
Ban on Travel, Visas, Ceasing Refugee Processing
Late Friday afternoon, Trump signed an executive order, "Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States." The order is already subject to litigation and several district courts have issued stays. What appears to be in practical effect at the time of this writing, however, is the following:
- Most visa issuance and admissions to nationals of Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen is to be suspended for least 90 days. Following some initial days’ confusion, on January 29th, DHS Secretary John Kelly clarified that Lawful Permanent Residents will continue to be able to enter the U.S.;
- Please note: DHS has clarified that the order applies to those individuals “traveling on” passports from banned countries. However, at the time of this writing there appears to be an ambiguity at U.S. ports and Pre-Clearance locations as to whether this ban applies to Dual Nationals. Nationals of these affected countries, even if holding other passports, are strongly encouraged to contact us prior to making travel into the U.S. or departures.
- New uniform screening standards are to be implemented. The exact contours of new procedures are not known at this time;
- The U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) is suspended for 120 days, with the total number of refugee admissions for the remainder of Fiscal Year 2017 decreased to 50,000;
- Consulates will suspend the visa interview waiver program. Contrary to media reports, this is not a suspension of the Visa Waiver Program (known by many as VWP or ESTA), which remains in effect;
- The Department of State will review of visa reciprocity provisions.
We are receiving multiple and varying reports regarding the implementation of this order from our government contacts and colleagues overseas. Affected individuals inside and outside the United States should contact our offices prior to planning any travel and may wish to reconsider any plans to depart internationally.
Additional Executive Orders
Earlier in the week, Trump has issued executive orders regarding the following:
- Prioritizing removal of individuals who have been convicted of crimes, charged with crimes, committed acts that constitute crimes, or committed misrepresentations for public benefits;
- Enabling local law enforcement officers the power to perform the function of federal immigration offers with respect to investigation, apprehension, and detention;
- Threatening the withholding of funds for so-called “Sanctuary Cities”;
- Prosecuting criminal immigration offenses;
- Commencing the building of a physical wall between the U.S. and Mexico;
- Constructing additional detention facilities near the Southern border;
- Hiring additional immigration agents.
Please contact us if you have any questions relating to these executive orders and their impact to your family or operations.