On Friday afternoon, President Trump signed an Executive Order titled “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States” immediately suspending the entry of citizens from Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Yemen, Iraq, and Sudan, as well as the entry of new refugees. Employers with immigrant employees in the affected countries are encouraged to suspend work-related travel into the U.S. for the time being, as they may be unable to enter the U.S. Where possible, immigrant employees currently in the U.S. from the affected countries, even those with valid immigration documentation, such as H-1B visas, should avoid international travel for the next 90 days unless there is more clear indication of enforcement activities, a change to the Executive Order, or court-related clarity.
Who Does The Executive Order Impact?
- Visitors, including business visitors, arriving from primarily European countries under the Visa Waiver Program, or ESTA, are now required to obtain visitor visas to ensure all visitors undergo in-person interviews. Previously, citizens from 38 countries including most of Europe, Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan have been allowed into the U.S. for 90-day periods without obtaining visitor visas from the U.S. Embassy or undergoing visa interviews. The Executive Order suspends the Visa Waiver Program indefinitely. Because over 20 million foreign visitors enter under the Visa Waiver Program annually, wait times for consular visa interviews at U.S. Embassies may be impacted. Immigrant visitors and employees seeking visa re-stamping should monitor visa wait times at the Department of State website.
- Foreign nationals from the seven affected countries will likely be temporarily prevented from entry at U.S. airports and ports of entry by U.S. Customs and Border Protection for a 90-day period. Similarly, U.S. Embassies abroad are expected to suspend the issuance of temporary nonimmigrant visas and immigrant visas to foreign nationals of the seven countries. The issuance of visas or entry into the U.S. of dual citizens of affected countries will also likely be temporarily suspended. To prevent unnecessary travel, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is working with airlines to prevent the selected travelers from boarding international flights. Because the Executive Order also orders DHS to suspend “visas and other immigration benefits” to the citizens of the affected countries, immigrant employees in the U.S. seeking extensions of existing visas through U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services may potentially be impacted.
- U.S. permanent residents who are citizens of the affected countries will be allowed to enter the U.S. based on recent updates issued by White House Chief of Staff Reince Preibus and DHS. Initially, the Executive Order only permitted the entry of U.S. permanent residents “when in the national interest” on a case-by-case basis. On Sunday, DHS clarified that lawful permanent resident status will be a dispositive factor in the case-by-case determinations, absent derogatory information indicating a serious threat to public safety and welfare.
- Newly admitted refugees from any country will be suspended for a 120-day period under the Executive Order. Current employees under refugee status should be permitted to travel internationally but may face additional scrutiny at Customs if they are from the seven affected countries. The entry of new Syrian refugees is indefinitely suspended.
Over the course of the next 30 to 120 days, the Department of State and DHS will provide reports to the President regarding the public-security concerns, and we will provide additional alerts as the policy evolves.