New Executive Order on U.S. Immigration Effective March 16
On Monday, March 6, 2017, the Trump Administration issued a new Executive Order which will take effect on March 16, 2017 suspending entry of certain foreign nationals of six (6) countries including Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen for at least 90 days, subject to exemptions and waivers outlined below. The order also suspends the entry of all refugees for at least 120 days.
The new Executive Order is more limited in scope and specifically revokes an earlier Executive Order issued on January 27, 2017, which was suspended pursuant to a Temporary Restraining Order issued by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in State of Washington and State of Minnesota v. Trump. The Administration also issued a new Memorandum issuing guidance for the U.S. Secretary of State, the Attorney General, and the Secretary of Homeland Security in relation to the new Executive Order. Many provisions of the Executive Order and the Memorandum call for increased scrutiny of all foreign nationals applying for entry, visa issuance or other immigration benefits. Additional screening or security protocols at consulates and USCIS may impact processing timelines of all applications.
We will continue to monitor the impact of the new Executive Order as agencies, border officers and consulates implement the new rules and policies.
Key Provisions of the New Executive Order Effective March 16, 2017
Enhanced Screening and Security Protocols: Directing agencies to implement additional screening standards and protocols for refugees and other foreign nationals seeking U.S. entry, visa issuance, and immigration benefits and to report on their efforts.
Suspension of Entry to U.S. by Nationals of Designated Countries: Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, or Yemen. The order suspends the entry of nationals of the designated countries – by birth or citizenship – for at least 90 days starting March 16, 2017.
Exemptions: Nationals of the designated countries in following categories are not subject to the entry ban:
- U.S. citizens traveling with a U.S. passport;
- Lawful permanent residents (“green card” holders);
- Dual nationals including using the passport from a non-designated country;
- Persons already granted asylum, refugees already admitted to the United States and individuals granted withholding of removal, advance parole or protection under Convention Against Torture; and
- Persons applying for entry to the U.S. pursuant to a valid visa obtained prior to the effective date of March 16, 2017.
Waivers: The new Executive Order also provided for limited discretionary waivers to be evaluated on a “case-by-case” basis. Officers at the port of entry and consular officers may issue visas or allow entry of a national subject to the ban if the foreign national has demonstrated to the officer’s satisfaction that denying entry during the suspension period would cause undue hardship, entry would not pose a threat to national security and would be in the national interest. Section 3(c) of the order provides examples of circumstances where a waiver may be appropriate.
Suspension of All Refugee Admissions: The new Executive Order suspends admission and adjudication of applications by refugees into the United States under the United States Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) for 120 days. The new order no longer singles out Syria and no longer prioritizes refugee claims based on individuals of a “minority religion.”
Suspension of the Visa Interview Waiver Program: The new order requires those applying for visas at U.S. consulates to attend an in-person visa interview.
Due to uncertainties surrounding implementation of this new Executive Order, foreign nationals who may be impacted by the order should contact immigration counsel prior to departing the U.S. or making plans to enter the U.S. or apply for a visa. Travelers subject to the ban currently outside the U.S. should contact immigration counsel immediately and consider return to the U.S. prior to the effective date of March 16, 2017.
Since the release of the initial Executive Order, individuals have reported inconsistent application of rules, being denied entry onto international flights, extended wait times at U.S. Ports of Entry due to extra screening, as well as hours of detention and intrusive questioning (including separating family members and reviewing cell phones, laptops, and social media accounts) without allowing access to legal counsel. All travelers and visa applicants may be subject to increased scrutiny or delays.
Please contact immigration counsel for specific legal advice on your case.
Gibney will continue to closely monitor any proposed changes to policy or procedure under the new Administration, and we will provide updates as needed. For further details and forthcoming updates, please see Gibney’s Immigration Updates and FAQs page as well as Gibney’s Insights page. If you have any questions regarding this alert, please contact your designated Gibney representative, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.