Beyond various agency reporting and data collection requirements, this order affects various refugee and immigration programs. The order suspends the entry of nationals from certain designated countries for 90 days. The designated countries currently are Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. This means that foreign nationals who are citizens of these countries are not currently permitted to enter the United States. Since the order was issued, it has been clarified that US legal permanent residents from those countries may still enter. However, foreign nationals from those counties holding non-immigrant visas or immigrant visas cannot enter the US for at least 90 days. It is possible that other countries may be added to this list later. The order also suspends the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program for a period of 120 days and places a ban on Syrian refugees indefinitely. The order also will impact visa interview waivers, making in-person interviews required for most visa applicants. Please note: the visa interview waiver program is NOT the same thing as the visa waiver program. The visa interview waiver program allowed some foreign nationals who met certain requirements to skip the interview portion of applying for a non-immigrant visa to the US. We expect the suspension of this program to significantly increase visa wait times at US consulates around the globe.
After the signing, implementation of the Executive Order began Friday afternoon. Reports soon surfaced that certain individuals were detained, returned to their countries of origin, prevented from boarding flights, and pressured to sign documents to surrender their green cards. Lawyers and protesters flooded airports around the country. The lawyers attempted to make sure that foreign nationals were not wrongfully detained or turned away, and that those with a fear of returning to their home country were granted credible fear interviews. The protesters offered cheers of support to those entering the terminal from international flights. On Saturday, the Eastern District of New York issues a nationwide stay of removal preventing deportation of certain individuals affected by the Executive Order. Federal courts in Massachusetts, Virginia, and Washington state subsequently issued similar orders, which further addressed detention and access to lawyers, respectively. Later in the weekend, the administration clarified that at least permanent residents (green card) holders should be admitted to the US.
How Does This Affect You?
If you are a citizen of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, or Yemen, we highly recommend that you consult with a qualified immigration attorney before leaving the US if you are currently in the US. Depending on your immigration status, you may not be permitted to re-enter the US, at least for the next 90 days.
If you are a citizen of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, or Yemen you will not likely be able to enter the US on a non-immigrant visa or on an immigrant visa, at least for the next 90 days.
If you are a citizen of another country (not a US citizen) and you are currently in the US, we still recommend that you consult with a qualified immigration attorney before leaving the US. The list of affected countries may change in coming days, weeks, or months, and we are not given advance warning about these mandates. The most conservative (safest) option will likely be to not travel, but again, you should consult with a qualified immigration attorney as each case is different.
We anticipate that more immigration-related executive orders may be issued in the coming days or weeks. It is difficult to anticipate exactly how these executive orders will play out as time goes on. We stand in solidarity with our foreign national clients, families, friends, and neighbors and hope to be able to safely guide our clients through these challenging times.
If you need assistance with a family-based or employment-based immigration matter, please contact our office at 804-396-3412 or at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn how we can assist. We look forward to hearing from you!