01 February 2017

President Trump's US immigration policy - implications and consequences


On Friday, January 27, the Trump administration issued an Executive Order entitled “Protecting the Nation from Terrorist Attacks by Foreign Nationals“ (“Executive Order”) and ordered a restriction of entry to citizens of seven predominantly Muslim countries (Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Iran, Somalia, Libya, and Yemen).

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) posted an update on Monday, January 30 that nearly all travelers, except US citizens, traveling on passports from the seven countries will be temporarily suspended from entry to the US. The DHS notice also stated that lawful permanent residents (LPRs or green card holders) will be allowed to board US bound aircraft but would be subject to national security checks and assessed for exceptions to the ban on a case-by-case basis.

Since then, a federal court has ordered that all LPRs be admitted.

Below are some of the key implications, consequences and expectations as a result of the Executive Order and actions taken since:

KEY POINTS

  • Only those non-LPRs on diplomatic visas (NATO, the UN, an embassy or consulate) from the designated countries will be admitted;
  • All other non-LPRs (visas including B-1/B-2, E, F, L, O, etc.) are barred from entry and their visas have been revoked;
  • Initially, there was no guidance regarding dual citizens (e.g. a citizen of Canada + one of the designated countries). On January 30, DHS stated that dual nationals of the UK and one of the designated countries would be exempt from the Executive Order when travelling on a valid UK passport and US visa on said UK passport or under the Visa Waiver program. Since then, it has been expanded and now all dual citizens may travel on visas so long as the visa is not on the passport of one of the seven designated countries;
  • There has been no guidance on what national security checks LPRs from one of the designated countries will be subject to, but one should expect intrusive questioning, including the checking of internet history, text messages and social media use;
  • Because this is an Executive Order with no precedent or guidance, we can expect inconsistent application of the rule by officers at the ports of entry; and
  • Unconfirmed reports have been circulated in the media and social media that this list of countries would be expanded. The US Department of State has confirmed that the travel ban is not being expanded at this time. Nonetheless, nationals of non-listed countries, especially predominantly Muslim countries, should expect greater scrutiny, including the checking of internet history, text messages and social media use.

Non LPRs from any of the designated countries that are in the US should avoid international travel until further notice.

We will keep monitoring this issue and provide updates on further developments.

If you would like to discuss how the Executive Order will affect you, please consult with your Withers attorney.

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