To: Clients and Friends of the Firm
You may be getting questions about the Executive Order (EO) "Protecting the Nation from Terrorist Attacks by Foreign Nationals” affecting citizens of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. Here are my immediate recommendations with respect to individuals from these countries:
- All individuals from the listed countries in any nonimmigrant status and applicants for adjustment of status to permanent resident with pending I-485 applicants to adjust status, and their family members, should avoid departing the United States until further notice. This includes travel to Canada, Mexico and other contiguous territories. At least for now, this includes individuals who were born in one of the listed countries and have become citizens of a country not on the list. The EO directs US immigration officials to stop issuing visas and visa renewals at consular posts and to stop travelers at US ports of entry even if they have unexpired visas and/or unexpired I-94 admission records. The EO has no direct impact on individuals who are in the United States and remain here.
- The US Department of Homeland Security has confirmed that the EO does not affect lawful permanent residents who already have green cards unless there is specific information that the individual poses a threat to safety or security. Permanent residents with green cards should be able to return from travel abroad. That said, I don’t recommend discretionary travel in this environment so if they can avoid travel abroad, that’s the conservative approach for now.
- It will be difficult or potentially impossible to onboard new employees from these countries in 2017 unless they already are in the United States.
- Employees of the company abroad and commercial partners and vendors who reside in these countries or are originally from these countries will not be able to travel to the United States or be admitted to the United States at US ports of entry for at least 90 days unless they are lawful permanent residents of the US.
- If there is a situation involving national interest of the United States, it may be possible to apply for an exception.
- Today we have reports of individuals from other Muslim-majority countries not on the list trying travel to the US and having their visitor visa cancelled at the airport. It’s possible additional countries will be added to the list or that visas will be cancelled on a case by case basis. It’s not uncommon for visas to be cancelled for individuals from a particular country if there is a security concern about that country. This means the person must apply for a new visa for future travel to the US, but there’s no assurance a new visa will be issued in a reasonable time frame if at all.
- Today there are reports of information from senior officials at US Citizenship and Immigration (USCIS) saying USCIS plans to apply the "security or public-safety threat" review described in the Executive Order to adjudication of all immigration benefits at USCIS, broadening application to nonimmigrants physically present in the US who apply for immigration benefits such as extension or change of status. We have no information on timing or scope of this change in USCIS procedures. Congressional staff expect additional guidance from DHS soon to clarify how the Executive Order will be applied going forward. We are monitoring the rapidly changing situation.