- Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements (01-25-2017)
- Enhancing Security in the Interior of the United States (01-25-2017)
- Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States (01-27-2017)
Executive Order Number 1 concerns building a wall along the 2,000 mile border between the US and Mexico.
Executive Order Number 2 would prioritize the deportation or removal of criminals from USA. It would also compel state and local agencies to participate in federal deportation program, by targeting so called Sanctuary Cities, Districts, states. If a sanctuary city doesn't comply, the federal funding can be cut off. Lawsuits are expected to follow. Some jurisdictions, such as, for example, Miami, already declared that they are abolishing their sanctuary city status.
Executive Order Number 3 immediately (1) Implemented a travel ban from seven designated predominantly Muslim countries for 90 days (Iran; Iraq; Libya; Somalia; Sudan; Syria; and Yemen); (2) suspended refugee admissions from all countries of the world for 120 days; (3) indefinitely suspended admission for nationals of Syria, and (4) suspends interview waivers at US consulates abroad.
On Monday January 30, 2017, the USCIS has announced that it will put a hold on all applications and petitions benefitting citizens/nationals of the 7 countries (Iran; Iraq; Libya; Somalia; Sudan; Syria; and Yemen), be they in the US or abroad. That means that a green card holder from one of seven countries cannot be sworn in as a US citizen, or a work permit can't be approved, or a green card application can't be approved -- even if a person was already interviewed, and there are no issues with the person's background and he/she is otherwise eligible for a green card, work permit, visa or US citizenship. Because a person is a "national" of one of the seven countries, his or her application will be placed on hold "until further notice".
The US Department of State had stopped issuing any visas to nationals from the seven enumerated countries: Iran; Iraq; Libya; Somalia; Sudan; Syria; and Yemen.
If you are a national of one of the seven countries, even if you were already issued a visa, you are no longer able to travel to USA on a that visa while this ban remains in place. Effective January 27, 2017, US Department of State had "provisionally revoked" all visas issued to the nationals of seven countries (click here to read the DoS memorandum).
Even if a national of one of the seven countries has a passport from another "unrestricted" country (dual citizenship), he or she will not be allowed to travel to USA while the ban is in place. (Update: on Feb 2, 2017, DOS issued a clarification on dual nationals: "We will continue to issue nonimmigrant and immigrant visas to otherwise eligible visa applicants who apply with a passport from an unrestricted country, even if they hold dual nationality from one of the seven restricted countries.")
The executive order also suspends the “interview waiver” program at US consulates abroad. However, ESTA or the Visa Waiver Program is not directly impacted by the new executive order. The “interview waiver” program is a policy whereby some foreign nationals applying for a renewal of a visa abroad are exempt from an in person interview at US consulates since they have been previously screened. By eliminating the interview waiver program, interview wait times at US consulates will likely increase.
The executive order also suspends all refugee admissions for 120 days and indefinitely suspends admission of Syrian refugees for an undefined amount of time. During the 120 days, government agencies are instructed to implement new procedures to help secure the “national interest.”
Upon resumption of the refugee program, the executive order instructs the government to prioritize admission of Christians over other religions, which will result in more lawsuits to follow.
Yes, the executive order still applies to lawful permanent residents. Please keep in mind that the ban was not cancelled but merely modified as it applies to green card holders nationals of one of the seven enumerated countries.
As of result of litigation, on Sunday, January 29, 2017 DHS stated that permanent residents are allowed to board planes and come to the US, but will undergo additional secondary inspection screening upon their entry. The same day DHS issued a statement stating that allowing permanent residents to enter the US on a “case by case basis” is in the “national interest” but that permanent residents will continue to undergo increased interrogation. Even after DHS’ announcement softening how the ban applies to permanent residents, anyone returning from one of the seven designated countries should anticipate increased interrogation, potential detention and long delays when returning from trips abroad.
Please see our previous posts on executive orders on travel ban and about sanctuary cities here.
A draft copy of a 4th unsigned Executive Order entitled “Protecting American Jobs and Workers by Strengthening the Integrity of Foreign Worker Visa Program” was made available at some websites. This Order would impact the H-1B and H-4 EAD programs, provide for site visits to L-1 employers and expand the E-Verify Program. It will change the way the H-1B Lottery is operated, giving preference to "the best and the brightest" applicants with the degree from the US university and higher salary.
A good article about the H-1B visas could be found here.
ADVISORY or GUIDANCE for Lawful Permanent Residents of USA, Dual Citizens, People with Pending Applications, Workers, Students and Visitors to the United States:
- If you are from one of the seven countries listed above, do not leave the country unless you do not plan to return to the USA.
- If you are a lawful permanent resident (a green card holder) from one of the seven countries, beware that the ban also applies to you. The ban was merely modified by DHS. On 01-29-2017, the DHS clarified that they will allow permanent residents to enter the US on a “case by case basis” is in the “national interest” but that permanent residents will continue to undergo increased interrogation and secondary inspection (therefore, they can be denied re-admission to USA). Read our guidance on what to do if you are being denied admission at the airport and the CBP agent tries to take away your green card.
- If you are from a Muslim country, remember that your country also maybe added to the list of the "banned countries" while you are outside of the USA.
- If you are a national from one of the seven countries, and have a visa in your passport, your visa was "provisionally revoked" by the US Dept of State effective 01-27-2017, which means your visa was made invalid and you can't travel to USA.
- If you are have a pending application/petition for immigration benefits with USCIS and you are from one of the 7 countries, your application will be placed on hold. At this time, this hold is indefinite or "until further notice". It might be possible to file a Petition for a Writ of Mandamus in Federal Court to try to force the government to take action on your pending application/petition.
- If you are from a Muslim country which is not on the List of 7, you may want to file your application for immigration benefits now before your country is added to the list of banned countries.
- If you are a green card holder, no matter what country you were born in, you may be wish to apply for naturalization as soon as possible in order to assure that you will be able to travel abroad and can always return to your home in USA in the future.
- If you are present in the US on temporary visa and wish to extend or change your status, consult an attorney before filing any application.
- If you are undocumented, see an immigration attorney to see if there are any possibilities for you to apply for lawful status.
- If you plan to sponsor a relative for a green card, do so immediately as the family-based categories may be severely restricted in the future.
- If you are on a temporary working visa and wish to apply for a green card, ask your employer to sponsor you now before it's too late.
- If you are a dual citizen from one of the seven countries and any other country (except USA), you are not allowed to travel to USA. (Update: on Feb 2, 2017, DOS issued a clarification on dual nationals: "We will continue to issue nonimmigrant and immigrant visas to otherwise eligible visa applicants who apply with a passport from an unrestricted country, even if they hold dual nationality from one of the seven restricted countries.")
- Even if you are a lawful permanent resident of USA and plan to travel internationally or plan to return to USA after a trip abroad, you should consult an attorney.
- The EO also suspends the “interview waiver” program at US consulates abroad. Importantly, ESTA or the Visa Waiver Program is not directly impacted by the new EO. The “interview waiver” program is a policy whereby some foreign nationals applying for a renewal of a visa abroad are exempt from an in person interview at US consulates since they have been previously screened. By eliminating the interview waiver program, interview wait times at US consulates will likely increase.