Virginia, US

Jan 25 2017

President Trump Expected to Suspend Entry of Foreign Nationals from Seven Countries

United States

United States

President Donald J. Trump is expected to sign an executive order that will suspend the entry of foreign nationals from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen to the United States for a period of 30 days, according to a published draft of the order. The executive order is also expected to suspend a worldwide program that exempted certain visa renewal applicants from consular interviews.

The executive order is expected to be issued Thursday, though it could be delayed.  The following information is based on Fragomen’s analysis of the published draft.  The final order could differ. 

Who Is Subject to the Entry Ban?

Though the language of the draft executive order is unclear, it appears to apply to nationals of the seven countries, as well as those with dual nationality in one of these countries and another foreign country. Since the United States typically looks to the laws of the foreign nation in order to determine whether an individual is a national of that country, if a person’s country of birth considers him or her to be a national, the entry ban may apply. 

It also remains unclear whether individuals who are not citizens of one of these countries but who are residents of or have other strong ties to any of these countries may also be barred from entering the United States.

The ban applies to “immigrants and nonimmigrants,” which means that it covers those with a temporary visa (e.g., B-1, H-1B and L-1), foreign nationals holding a U.S. immigrant visa and U.S. lawful permanent residents.

The ban is expected to be in place for at least 30 days after the order is signed.  However, it could be extended, and could be expanded to additional foreign countries.

Foreign Nationals Subject to the Ban Should Avoid International Travel

Foreign nationals who are subject to the ban and are already in the United States should avoid international travel for the duration of the ban.  Those who depart should expect to be denied reentry while the ban is in effect.

Those who are traveling to the United States when the ban takes effect could be refused permission to board a flight to the United States or admission at a U.S. port of entry.

Immigration Applicants and Petitioners Should Expect Widespread Government Processing Delays

In addition to the entry ban, the executive order suspends a visa interview waiver program that was in place at U.S. consulates worldwide.  The waiver exempted some visa renewal applicants from an in-person consular interview. The suspension of the interview waiver applies to all U.S. visa applicants regardless of country of nationality or citizenship, and means that wait times for visa interviews are likely to increase significantly.  Only in rare cases, such as visas for foreign diplomats, may the State Department exempt an applicant from the personal interview requirement.

The draft order also calls for the development of potentially expansive changes to screening processes that would apply to all immigration programs.  Details are expected in forthcoming communications from the Administration.

Also, due to a federal government hiring freeze, visa applicants, as well as those submitting immigration petitions and applications to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and the U.S. Department of Labor, should expect processing slowdowns.

Fragomen is closely monitoring the implementation of the Trump Administration’s immigration actions and will provide frequent updates.  If you have any questions, please contact the immigration professional with whom you work at Fragomen.  This alert is for informational purposes only.

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