Last Friday, President Trump signed an executive order banning the entry of foreign nationals from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen to the United States for a period of at least 90 days. The executive order, titled “Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States,” applies to nationals of all seven countries. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has now advised that only travelers who present passports from one of the seven countries will be subject to the ban — meaning that dual nationals of one of these countries who present a passport from a non-listed country should not be subject to the ban. Although the ban initially applied both to immigrants and to nonimmigrants, meaning that it covered those with a temporary visa (for example, B-1 or H-1B) as well as U.S. lawful permanent residents, the Trump administration has now clarified that permanent residents are exempt from the travel ban, though they may be questioned as to their ties to those countries.
We expect that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will halt processing of applications for adjustment of status filed by nationals or dual nationals of these seven countries until the ban is lifted. We also expect that anyone who is not a national or dual national of one of the listed countries, but who has traveled to one of these countries in the past five years, should anticipate additional questioning by a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer upon return to the U.S.
The executive order indicates that the departments of Homeland Security and State may, in the national interest and on a case-by-case basis, issue visas or other immigration benefits to foreign nationals otherwise subject to the ban. However, the exact process for applying for or receiving a waiver from the travel ban has not yet been disclosed.
While the ban will be in place until at least April 27, 2017, it could be extended should any of the seven countries named in the executive order fail to provide additional security-related information requested by the Trump administration. The administration has also indicated that the travel ban could be expanded in the future to include additional countries.
In addition to the U.S. entry ban, the executive order suspends a popular visa interview waiver program that was in place at U.S. consulates worldwide. This waiver program exempted some visa renewal applicants from an in-person consular interview. The suspension of the interview waiver applies to all U.S. visa applicants, regardless of country of nationality or citizenship. As a result of the additional strain that the suspension of the visa waiver program will bring to bear on consular resources worldwide, you should anticipate potential travel delays for foreign employees who are not subject to the entry ban but who are applying for U.S. visas.