On Friday, January 27, 2017, US President Donald Trump signed an Executive Order titled “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States.” The Executive Order includes, among other things, a travel ban on foreign nationals from seven countries. Following is a list of FAQs regarding the travel ban.
Question 1: Who is banned from travel to the United States?
The Executive Order suspends entry into the United States of foreign nationals from the following seven countries: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. The Executive Order does not define what it means to be “from” one of these countries. For example, it is not clear whether “from” means country of citizenship, country of birth, or both. Dual nationals who are not US citizens are included (e.g., a citizen of both Iran and the United Kingdom).
Question 2: Does the ban apply to immigrants or green card holders?
Yes. The Executive Order covers “immigrant and nonimmigrant entry into the United States” of foreign nationals from the seven countries. Thus, the travel ban applies to US permanent residents (often referred to as “green card” holders) as well as temporary visa holders.
Question 3: How long will the ban be in effect?
The Executive Order suspends travel for 90 days from the date of the order (January 27, 2017). Ninety days from this date is April 27, 2017. However, travel will not automatically be reinstated after this 90-day period. This decision will be based on recommendations made by the Secretaries of State and Homeland Security to the president and will depend in part on each country providing data requested by the secretaries to the United States for those countries’ travelers.
Question 4: Are there any exceptions?
Yes. The Executive Order’s travel ban does not apply to foreign nationals from these seven countries who are traveling on diplomatic visas, North Atlantic Treaty Organization visas, C-2 visas for travel to the United Nations, and G-1, G-2, G-3 and G-4 visas. In addition, the Secretaries of State and Homeland Security may make case-by-case exceptions that they deem to be in the national interest.
Question 5: Can other countries’ nationals be stopped, detained or not admitted?
Yes. US Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”) always wields discretion to determine the admissibility of any foreign national requesting admission to the United States at a port of entry. Given the heightened level of scrutiny resulting from this Executive Order, CBP officers are likely to exercise broader discretion than in the past in assessing admissibility of foreign travelers.
Question 6: How should companies advise their employees?
- Postpone travel of potentially impacted employees currently in the United States. While only nationals of the seven countries (i.e., Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Yemen) are banned from admission for 90 days on any nonimmigrant or immigrant visa, we recommend asking employees of any citizenship who have traveled to the seven countries to advise the employer prior to international travel outside the United States.
- Create a clear escalation vehicle for impacted employees currently outside the United States to advise if they require assistance or support or if they are detained at a port or refused boarding by air carriers. In addition, US embassies and consular posts are immediately suspending issuance of nonimmigrant and immigrant visas for nationals of these seven countries. We recommend having a hotline system for concerns, which employers may elect to set up through established security or HR protocols.
- Advise employees who are not directly impacted, such as prior travelers to the seven countries, to remain calm if they are inappropriately detained. They also should be directed to the company’s escalation vehicle.
- Prepare global travelers for delays in all cases, in view of expected additional screening and vetting stemming from the Executive Order.
While this alert relates primarily to the travel ban, please note that the Executive Order contains several other key provisions, including the suspension of the US Refugee Admissions Program for 120 days, after which further consideration will occur, and an indefinite ban on Syrian refugees. The order also includes plans for additional uniform screening of all travelers to the United States, future roll-out of full biometric entry procedures and immediate suspension of all waivers of visa interviews.