On Monday morning, President Donald Trump signed into effect an executive order aimed to reinstate many of the same or similar mandates he sought in his January 27th executive order. The new executive order revokes the prior order, but re-mandates a temporary suspension of the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program and a temporary restriction on issuance of visas/admission to the U.S. of certain nationals of six of the seven originally named nations, effective on March 16, 2017.

The new executive order will suspend for 90 days entry for nationals of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen who are outside the United States on March 16, did not have a U.S. visa as of January 27, 2017 and who do not have a visa as of March 16. Exceptions to this will include:

  • U.S. lawful permanent residents;
  • Those who are admitted to or paroled into the United States;
  • Those holding travel permits, such as an advance parole document;
  • Dual nationals of these countries carrying passports issued by a non-designated country;
  • Those holding diplomatic visas or certain treaty visas; and
  • Those granted asylum status, withholding of removal, advance parole or protection under the Convention Against Torture, or who are already admitted under the refugee program.

The order allows for case-by-case discretionary waiver where the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security deems it to be in the national interest. It also clearly states that visas issued prior to March 16 will not be revoked under the order.

Significant differences between the new order and the January 27th order include: Iraq is no longer among the list of countries whose nationals will be temporarily blocked from entering the United States, although its nationals will be subject to additional screening to determine whether applicants for U.S. immigration benefits have terrorism ties. Also, Syrians will not be singled out by being blocked indefinitely from general entry or from the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program. The prior provision allowing waiver of the “travel ban” for those who have experienced religious prosecution in their home country, which was widely viewed as favoring Christians from Muslim nations, is now a much broader, case-by-case waiver provision.

Many of the provisions of the prior executive order, including the 120-day temporary suspension and evaluation of the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program, mandated reporting and re-evaluation of documentary requirements for admissions, standardized vetting for all immigration programs, suspension of the Visa Interview Waiver Program

President Trump’s January 27th executive order was stayed through a nationwide temporary restraining order issued by a federal district court in the state of Washington, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit dismissed the administration’s appeal from this injunction, citing the plaintiff’s claim that the order violated due process by failing to provide a period for notice and comment and the public’s interests not only in national security but also in free flow of travel, avoiding separation of families and freedom from discrimination. The Administration reportedly sought to address these issues in its second attempt.

Client Insights:

  1. Individuals from the six designated countries, as well as Iraqis, should plan ahead for international travel from March 16, 2017 through June 14, 2017. Those who may be subject to the ban should defer non-essential travel to the United States and consult with legal counsel prior to engaging in international travel during this period.
  2. Nationals of the six designated countries who fall under an exception to the ban should consult with legal counsel prior to engaging in international travel in order to be prepared to demonstrate their qualification as an exception. They should anticipate being questioned heavily and possibly being placed into secondary inspection when seeking to enter the United States during this period.
  3. Individuals who will seek admission based on humanitarian or other circumstances on a case-by-case basis should consult with legal counsel beforehand be prepared to be placed into secondary inspection when requesting entry to the U.S. between March 16 and June 14. If at all possible, they should prepare documentary evidence that can be provided to Customs and Border Protection to support their requests for waiver of the ban.
  4. Lawful Permanent Residents are reminded not to relinquish or abandon their permanent resident status during any detention by CBP officers. They should insist on speaking with an immigration attorney and appearing before an immigration judge if they feel that they are being pushed to relinquish their permanent residency.
  5. Holders of U.S. temporary visas are reminded to comply with the terms of their visas at all times and to be prepared to demonstrate continued compliances when requesting re-entry or requesting other immigration benefits inside the United States, such as extension of work authorization, change or extension of status, or adjustment of status to lawful permanent residency.
  6. As the executive order is put into practice by U.S. consulates, agencies and ports of entry on March 16, we will be monitoring reports of practices and any legal challenges that may be filed.