On January 27, 2017, President Donald J. Trump signed an executive order suspending the entry of foreign nationals from Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen to the United States for a minimum period of 90 days. The entry ban applies to "immigrants and nonimmigrants," which means that it covers those with a temporary visa (e.g., H-1B, J-1s), applicants for adjustment of status with advance parole, foreign nationals holding a U.S. immigrant visa and U.S. lawful permanent residents. Therefore, it is strongly recommended that nationals of these seven counties, including dual nationals and U.S. permanent residents, not travel internationally. The ban is expected to be in place for at least 90 days; however, it could be extended and expanded to include additional foreign countries. As such, it is imperative for all foreign national employees to consult with qualified immigration counsel prior to any international travel.
Significant Consular Processing Delays Expected
In addition to the entry ban, the executive order suspends the visa interview waiver program that exempted certain visa renewal applicants from consular interviews. The suspension of this program applies to all U.S. visa applicants regardless of country of nationality or citizenship, and will result in significantly longer wait times for visa interviews and visa issuance processing delays. Also, due to a federal government hiring freeze, visa applicants, as well as those submitting immigration petitions and applications to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and the U.S. Department of Labor, should expect processing slowdowns.
What Does This Mean For You?
Employees with valid nonimmigrant visa status should be aware that they could be subject to significant delays scheduling visa interviews at U.S. Consulates abroad and processing delays following visa interviews. While nationals from the seven noted countries should avoid international travel all together, those from other countries who require visa stamp renewals should strongly consider remaining in the U.S. to avoid the risk of being subject to lengthy visa processing delays. These delays could lead to an extended absence from the U.S. If you are in the process of filing for an H-1B extension with USCIS or J-1 extension with the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates, your application should not be affected by the executive order (even if you are from one of the seven noted countries), except for potential processing delays due to the federal government hiring freeze and policy changes within the relevant federal agencies. In addition, if you are from one of the seven noted countries and have a pending adjustment of status application, it is anticipated that USCIS will likely hold such applications in abeyance while the administration develops clearer policy guidance.
Our immigration counsel is closely monitoring the Trump administration's immigration actions and will provide timely updates.