Last week, President Trump issued three Executive Orders addressing a wide range of immigration issues. The content of the Orders establish executive branch policy and immediate concrete action items.
The Executive Orders include measures impacting refugees, enhancing enforcement (building "the wall"), and many other highly significant issues. This Alert focuses on the key business immigration related impacts of the first three Executive Orders issued by the Trump Administration through January 27, 2017.
- Admissions to United States, Visas, and Immigration Benefits: Temporary Suspension for Citizens of Selected Countries
Nonimmigrants (temporary visa holders) "from" certain countries will not be permitted to enter the United States for 90 days from January 27, 2017. These countries include: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen.
- It is critical to inform your foreign national employees of these restrictions so that individuals born in or citizens of these countries are aware of these international travel restrictions.
- The list of impacted countries and the period of prohibition may change over time. The list is to be expanded in a future "Presidential proclamation" made on the basis of internal government review. We will provide updates when such changes occur.
- The Executive Order provides that immigrants (green card holders) from the impacted countries will also be subject to the ban. On January 29, 2017, Secretary John Kelly of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that he finds the entry of lawful permanent residents (green card holders) to "be in the national interest." Based on DHS guidance, we expect that green card holders from affected countries will be able to apply for admission, but will likely be subject to additional questioning and scrutiny (secondary inspection) before being granted entry to the country.
- Visa processing is also suspended for individuals from these countries.
- Although the language of the Executive Order is somewhat unclear, our analysis is that the intent is to suspend the approval of immigration benefits filed with USCIS for subject countries during this period as well. We expect USCIS to provide clarification very shortly.
- Applying for Visas: All Applicants Subject to In-Person Interviews
Over the past several years, U.S. consular posts have instituted programs exempting certain individuals applying to renew visa stamps from an in-person interview (Visa Interview Waiver Program). Effective immediately, all visa applicants will now be required to appear for in-person interviews for new and renewal visa applications, unless specifically exempted by statute. Applicants for visa stamps should expect to be required to appear in person for a visa interview. "Drop box" exceptions to the interview process will no longer be permitted.
Legal actions have been filed in several states challenging certain aspects of these Executive Orders. The situation is extremely fluid. Therefore, it is important that individuals considering international travel consult with counsel to assess their individual situations in relation to the current environment.
Tonkon Torp will continue to provide updates on new Executive Orders, regulations, and changes in law and policy that affect business immigration.
This client alert is prepared for the general information of our clients and friends. It should not be regarded as legal advice. If you have any questions regarding this update, or for more information about this topic, please contact any of the attorneys in our Business Immigration practice group, or the attorney with whom you normally consult.