On Friday, January 27, 2017 President Trump signed an executive order on immigration restricting travel to the United States from citizens of seven countries – namely, Iraq, Iran, Syria, Yemen, Sudan, Somalia & Libya. The initial interpretation and implementation of this order led to confusion among U.S. border agents and others placed with admitting individuals to the United States. This included a period of time over the weekend when returning permanent residents (green card holders) were subject to the order, denying them admission to the United States. There are now lawsuits that have been filed and we are hopeful that there will be additional judicial review and clarification of this order in due course.
In the short term, here are some points to consider:
- On Sunday night (January 29, 2017), the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, General John Kelly, confirmed that “I hereby deem the entry of lawful permanent residents to be in the national interest.” This statement means that green card holders are now (absent the receipt of significant derogatory information indicating a serious threat to public safety and welfare), exempt from the travel ban and can be admitted. However, keep in mind that they will still put you in secondary and you will still need additional time at the airport.
- If you are from one of the seven countries affected and are residing in the United States in a temporary (or non-immigrant status) you should not currently make plans to travel outside the United States even if you hold a valid visa in your passport. (there are some exceptions to this, but they are narrow. Please contact us if you have questions).
- There seem to be conflicting reports as to how this affects dual nationals (so if you are in fact a dual national of a country other than the United States and of one of the seven countries) you should probably err on the side of caution until this is clarified.
- Individuals from countries other than those listed (Iraq, Iran, Syria, Yemen, Sudan, Somalia & Libya) are eligible to continue to travel, obtain visas and reenter the United States.
- This does not affect the current and ongoing status of individuals from the seven countries listed who are currently inside the United States in a valid non-immigrant status.
- With regards to social media postings, The Department of Homeland Security has a wide amount of discretion in terms of what they review and how they interpret that information in terms of a person’s eligibility for admission to the United States. Remember – a valid visa essentially provides you with the opportunity to be reviewed and admitted. It does not guarantee admission, so political postings and similar information could be reviewed and utilized by DHS in the context of a person’s admission to the United States.
As this is a fluid and changing situation we will continue to monitor this and provide updated relevant information as needed.