President Donald Trump signed an Executive Order (EO) on January 27, 2017, titled “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States_.”
1. Major provisions of the EO that have caused nationwide protests at major airports in the US over the past weekend are as follows:1. Suspend entry into the US for 90 days for nationals of seven countries—Iran, Iraq, Syria, Somalia, Sudan, Libya, and Yemen;
2. The order prohibits all Syrian refugees from entering the U.S. indefinitely; and
3. Suspends all refugee admissions under the US Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) for 120 days for all countries.
It was unclear over the weekend if the suspension of entry for nationals of these 7 countries applied to legal residents or “green card” holders. This caused widespread confusion at the airports as well as unlawful detentions of “green card” holders. Requests for Temporary Restraining Orders and Injunctions were filed in the Federal Courts in NY, VA and other places. The White House has since clarified that the ban does NOT apply to “green card” holders from these seven countries.
Other Provisions of the Executive Order
• The Order does NOT apply to foreign nationals travelling on diplomatic visas, North Atlantic Treaty Organization Visas, C-2 Visas for travel to the United States and G-1, G-2, G-3 and G-4 visas
• No more than 50,000 refugees in Fiscal Year 2017 would be admitted, President Obama had doubled the refugee admissions for FY 2017 to 100,000 and that has been rolled back under this EO.
• A review will be conducted to determine and change the adjudications procedure for refugees
• Refugee applicants already in the process may be admitted upon the initiation and completion of the revised procedures
• Refugee claims made by individuals on the basis of religious-based persecution (if the religion is a minority religion in the country of nationality) will be made a priority once USRAP is continued post 120 days
• Implement uniform screening standards for all Immigration Programs as a part of adjudication process by identifying individuals seeking to enter United States on a fraudulent basis. It would include in-person interview, a database to identify the duplication of documents, amending of application forms
• Rescinds exercise of authority in Section 212 of the INA, 8 U.S.C. 1182, relating to terrorism being a ground of inadmissibility
• Expediting the completion and implementation of a Biometric Entry-Exit Tracking system for all travellers to the United States
• The Order cancels the Visa Interview Waiver Program, which earlier allowed repeat travellers to forgo the in-person interview – “drop box” procedures suspended in India for H-1B Visa issuance.
• Review all Non-immigrant visa reciprocity agreements, including all categories, duration of time, and fees. If a foreign country does not treat the U.S. national in a reciprocal manner, the Secretary of State will adjust the conditions to match.
• Greater autonomy for States and Local jurisdictions in the placement or resettlement of refugees in their jurisdictions.
The stated goal of the EO is to re-evaluate and strengthen the visa-vetting process. The order applies only to non-U.S. citizens, so anyone with U.S. citizenship—whether that person in natural-born or naturalized—is not affected. The EO does not affect lawful permanent residents (Green-card holders) of those countries as far as they don’t leave the country. Returning “green card” holders from the 7 countries will be subject to complete screening at return. Dual nationals from these seven countries have also been affected – example, if one holds an Iranian and Australian Citizenship, the ban still applies.
The EO also imposes various periodic reporting requirements upon the Secretary of Homeland Security, in consult with the Secretary of State and Director of National Intelligence, and salient ones are as follows:
• A report within 30 days regarding the information necessary for visa adjudications and names of countries that do not provide adequate information
• A report at 60 days of a list of countries (because those countries do not provide adequate information for visa adjudications) whose nationals would be prohibited entry
• A Joint Report (DHS and State) at 30, 60, 90 and 120 days on the progress of implementing this EO
• To submit three reports within first year on expedited completion of the bio metric entry- exit system
• To publish a report every 180 days on a list of Foreign nationals who have been charged, convicted based on past terrorism related activities and other gender based violence against women
• Reports on Uniform screening standards for all immigration programs
• Reports on Prioritization of refugee claims based on religious based persecution
GLF has seen a huge spike in email inquiries since this weekend. We believe this to be a direct consequence of this Executive Order and also an uptick in 221g visa denials and delays for H-1B visa stamping in India. GLF advises postponement of non-emergency travel for H-1B visa issuance to India until things settle down – even though India is not an affected country. Those with visas may certainly travel with valid documents. GLF has not seen any issues with respect to returning H-1B non-immigrants from India with valid H-1B visas and documents.
GLF will continue to monitor the progress of this Executive order and would issue updates as and when additional information is made available from Federal Agencies including DHS and Department of State.
GLF receives numerous emails and phone calls every day asking for comment on various proposed bills, media reports based on incomplete information and rumours. It is our job to separate fact and fiction and advise clients of important updates that are relevant. The best way to receive accurate information is through our Newsletters. We once again encourage you (and your employees) to sign up for our newsletter, if you are not already signed up to receive our newsletters, we encourage you to do so by going to www.gokarelaw.com and signing up under the Newsletter Tab. All we need is your name and email address and it takes very little time to sign up. You can also review all of our earlier GLF Newsletters on our website.
Please do not hesitate to contact GLF, if you have any questions or need additional information regarding this Executive Order.