On Friday, January 27, 2017 President Trump signed an Executive Order relating to visa issuance, screening procedures, and the admission of refugees. The Executive Order is titled “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States.” Among other immigration restrictions, Section 3 of the Executive Order, "suspends" the immigrant and nonimmigrant entry of nationals from certain designated countries for 90 days from the date of the order. The list of designated countries includes Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. It is important to note that travel will not be automatically reinstated after the 90 day period. Instead, The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will be required to report compliance from each of the countries in providing the information "needed … to determine that the individual seeking [entry to the U.S.] is who the individual claims to be and is not a security or public-safety threat." If DHS reports noncompliance, the country would have an additional 60 days to comply, or the travel ban would become indefinite.
Although the order does not define what it means to be "from" a designated country, comments made by DHS indicate that this will be broadly interpreted to include anyone who holds a passport from a designated country. This includes dual citizens who hold passports from a designated country as well as a non-designated country. While it has been indicated by DHS that the Executive Order does not apply to people who merely traveled to designated countries, there have also been reports to the contrary and, in an abundance of caution, individuals who have traveled to one of the designated countries should be prepared for additional questioning by DHS when returning from international travel. Although the DHS statement appears to exclude U.S. Citizens, we are suggesting all travelers prepare for the possibility of delays and questioning, especially if they have traveled to or through one of the designated countries or hold a passport from one of these countries.
Additionally, the wording of the Executive Order was extremely broad and was initially believed to include Lawful Permanent Residents (LPRs). However, DHS Secretary Kelly released a press statement on Sunday evening clarifying that the Executive Order will not automatically apply to LPRs.
Attorneys across the country have filed actions to halt the Executive Order. While several of the actions have been successful in staying the removal of individuals with valid visas and approved refugee applications affected by the Order, the Order remains in effect. DHS has since released a statement indicating only that the agency will continue to enforce all of President Trump’s Executive Orders and will comply with judicial orders. Consulates across the globe are taking varying positions regarding the Executive Order and have implemented different policies regarding which individuals may and may not schedule immigrant and nonimmigrant visa interview appointments. Therefore, individuals who have or plan to schedule consular visa interviews should check the policy at their local consulate prior to scheduling or attending their appointments.
Please note that the situation is fluid, and may change at any time. D&S will continue to provide updated information. In the interim, individuals who might be impacted by the Executive Order should consult with an immigration attorney and may be required to refrain from international travel or risk issues with readmission to the United States.