President Trump's Executive Order on Immigration
January 30, 2017
As anticipated, President Trump has issued an order on immigration under the auspices of improving security. The order imposes broad changes to the visa application, screening and entry process. The provisions of this order are likely to result in uncertainty of process for both U.S. Embassy and Border officials, and delays for many foreign nationals seeking visas abroad and seeking to return to the United States following international travel.
In light of the uncertainty surrounding the implementation of this Executive Order, we recommend that non-critical international travel by foreign nationals be postponed. Certainly, foreign national employees born in one of the impacted countries- Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen- should not depart the US until the situation is clearer. Foreign nationals from all countries who do not currently have valid visa stamps should also consider the lengthy delays and risks of travel during the next 90 days. Those who have visa stamps and were not born in one of the listed 7 countries should still consider the risks and delays of travel during this uncertain period as additional countries could be added to the travel ban list.
Contained in the Executive Order are provisions that:
- Suspend the Visa Interview Waiver Program: The order states that all applicants for non-immigrant visas will be required to attend an in-person interview. This means that the current “lock-box” system for visa renewals for citizens of certain countries is no longer in effect. For those traveling from the United States internationally who will be in need of a new visa in order to return, we anticipate immediate backlogs in visa appointments and the potential for significant delays in visa issuance. This is particularly true for citizens of high demand countries such as China and India. [NOTE: This order does not impact the visa waiver program allowing nationals from certain countries to enter the US for visits without first securing a visa].
- Ban the Entry of Nationals of Certain Countries: The order provides for a ban on entry for at least 90 days of all immigrants and nonimmigrants born in certain countries, including nationals of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. It is not clear whether this ban could impact nationals of these countries who are currently in the United States on a non-immigrant or immigrant visa, but until more details on how this ban will be implemented are issued, we strongly recommend that international travel plans be suspended immediately for nationals of these countries, regardless of current citizenship status.
- Add New Security Screening for All Immigration Programs: The order calls for the implementation of a uniform screening program during the adjudication process for all immigration benefits to identify fraud or the intent to cause harm after admission to the United States. It also establishes as a goal of the new screening program an evaluation of the applicant’s ability to become a positive, contributing member of society, and to make contributions to the national interest. This is a wholly new set of criteria and in what manner this criteria will be applied, and by whom, is yet to be determined.
- Biometric Entry-Exit System: The order directs the Secretary of Homeland Security to expedite completion and implementation of a biometric entry-exit system that will apply to all travelers to the United States.
- Revisit Visa Reciprocity: The order mandates that the Secretary of State review all visa reciprocity agreements to ensure that they are truly reciprocal with respect to validity period and fees for each visa classification.
WSM Will Discuss Trump’s Executive Order on Immigration on 2/1/2017; register here.
If you have questions about your particular travel situation we encourage you to reach out to us.
We will also be providing further updates as they develop on our website at www.wsmimmigration.com.