On January 27, 2017, President Trump signed an executive order that suspends immigrant and nonimmigrant aliens from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen from entering the U.S. for a period of 90 days; suspends the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) for 120 days; indefinitely suspends the entry of Syrian refugees into the U.S.; and suspends the Visa Interview Waiver Program.
The executive order is facing several legal challenges following its implementation and it has been difficult to determine its full scope and reach. For example, until a January 29 statement from Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, it was not clear whether the 90-day travel ban extended to U.S. permanent residents. In his statement, Secretary Kelly, utilizing a power granted to him under the executive order, stated the entry of lawful permanent residents has been deemed “to be in the national interest” and “a dispositive factor in our case-by-case determinations,” essentially exempting them from the suspension. Also, there is confusion on how the same travel ban applies to dual-citizens. Some clarity was achieved on January 28 when, based on reports, National Security Adviser Michael Flynn stated that the executive order does not apply to dual-citizens holding Canadian passports. For now, employers should read the executive order broadly, erring on the side of caution, when analyzing how it may impact future international travel plans for affected employees currently in the U.S.
Also, while the executive order focuses on the 90-day ban for foreign nationals from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen as well as suspension of the refugee program, it also impacts all foreign nationals that were eligible to renew their passport visa stamps through the Visa Interview Waiver Program, as the program has been suspended. While the executive order indicates that measures will be taken to prevent an increase in visa interview wait times, employers should assume, at least in the short-term, that delays will occur.
We will keep employers updated as the situation develops and we gain more clarity.