On the heels of the January 25, 2017 Executive Orders regarding Border Security and Public Safety in the Interior of the U.S., President Trump has signed the Executive Order, Protecting the Nation from Terrorist Attacks by Foreign Nationals. As with the actions taken earlier this week, this new Executive Order will impact immigration processes. Targeting the visa-issuance process, President Trump scrutinized current guidelines related to consular officers’ review of visa applications, the admission of refugees, and foreign nationals’ support of the U.S. Constitution and American law. President Trump has implemented the new Executive Order with the stated purpose of abating terrorist acts and dangerous conduct by foreign nationals once they have entered the U.S.
Initiatives to Protect Against Terrorist Attacks and Malevolent Behavior
This Executive Order implements the following:
Suspension of Issuance of Visas and Other Immigration Benefits to Nationals of Countries of Particular Concern.
- Immediately suspends for 90 days the admission to the U.S. of foreign nationals from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen (excluding those foreign nationals traveling on diplomatic visas, North Atlantic Treaty Organization visas, and C-2 visa for travel to the United Nations).
- Directs the Secretaries of Homeland Security and State and Director of National Intelligence to conduct a review of information needed from other countries for adjudication of a visa, admission to the U.S., or other immigration benefit, and submit a report to the President for further review and determination of how to manage visa applications.
- If any country does not respond to the requests of the Secretary of Homeland Security within a specified period, the President will include the country in a Presidential proclamation that would prohibit the entry of foreign nationals from the uncooperative country, with the exception of foreign nationals traveling on diplomatic visas, North Atlantic Treaty Organization visas, and C-2 visas for travel to the United Nations. The Secretary of Homeland Security may recommend to the President the names of any additional countries that should be subject to similar treatment.
- On a case-by-case basis and when in the national interest, authorizes the Secretaries of State and Homeland Security to issue visas or other immigration benefits to nationals of countries for which visas are otherwise blocked.
Visa Interview Security
- Immediate suspension of the Visa Interview Waiver Program. All individuals seeking a nonimmigrant visa will need to undergo an in-person interview (with limited statutory exceptions).
Visa Validity Reciprocity
- Directs the Secretary of State to review all nonimmigrant visa reciprocity agreements to ensure that they are truly reciprocal with respect to validity period and fees. If a country does not treat U.S. nationals seeking nonimmigrant visas in a reciprocal manner, the Secretary of State is directed to adjust the visa validity period, fee schedule, or other treatment to match the treatment of U.S. nationals by the foreign country, to the extent practicable.
Implementing Uniform Screening Standards for all Immigration Programs
- Directs the Secretaries of State, Homeland Security, the Director of National Intelligence, and the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation to implement uniform screening standards and procedures for those seeking an immigration benefit. This could include more in-person interviews for immigration benefits and amended application forms designed to elicit information regarding the applicant’s “likelihood of becoming a positive contributing member of society,” among other things.
Realignment of the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program for Fiscal Year 2017
- Suspend U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) for 120 days in order to review the USRAP application and adjudication process in order to ensure those approved for refugee admission to not pose a threat to the security of the U.S.
- Drastically reduces the number of refugee admissions to 50,000 during Fiscal Year 2017. Requires a review of U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) application and adjudication process to determine additional procedures to ensure an applicant does not pose a threat to the security and welfare of the United States.
- Instructs that the Secretaries of State and Homeland Security may admit individuals to the United States as refugees on a case-by-case basis, in their discretion, but only if the admission of such refugees is in the national interest, does not pose a risk to the security or welfare of the United States, and either, the person is a religious minority in his or her country of nationality facing religious persecution; or admitting the person would enable the United States to conform its conduct to an existing international agreement.
- Seeks to involve state and local jurisdictions in determining the placement or resettlement of refugees in their jurisdictions.
Rescission of Exercise of Authority Relating to the Terrorism Grounds of Inadmissibility
- Directs the Secretaries of State and Homeland Security, in consultation with the Attorney General, to consider rescinding the exercises of authority in Section 212 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (“INA”) relating to the terrorism grounds of inadmissibility.
Expedited Completion of the Biometric Entry-Exit Tracking System
- Directs the Secretary of Homeland Security to expedite the completion and implementation of a biometric entry-exit tracking system for all travelers to the United States.
Transparency and Data Collection
- To be more transparent and to more effectively implement policies and practices, the Secretary of Homeland Security is directed to collect and make publicly available within 180 days, and every 180 days thereafter, specific information about foreign-born individual in the U.S. who have been charged or convicted of terrorism-related offenses or who have been radicalized after entry and engaged in terrorism-related acts or supported terrorism-related organizations. Included in this information gathering is information regarding the number and types of gender-based incidents of violence against women or honor killings by foreign-born individuals in the United States.
We will continue to update our readers as additional information regarding these significant U.S. immigration changes becomes available.