Travel Cautions Relating to Executive Order of January 27, 2017

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As you may be aware, President Trump issued an Executive Order (“EO”) on January 27, 2017. The EO, “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States,” restricts entry by nationals of seven (7) countries, as well as refugee admissions overall. Specifically, for a 90-day period, nationals of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen are not allowed to enter the country and are also restricted from obtaining visas and other immigration benefits. Diplomatic visa holders are not included and there is also a case-by-case exception to the travel ban, allowing entry if it is in the national interest. Depending upon review of information gathered by the Departments of State and Homeland Security, this suspension may be extended and additional countries could be added.

The original language of the order includes both nonimmigrants (i.e. temporary visa holders and visitors) and immigrants (lawful permanent residents, a.k.a. green card holders). On January 29, the Secretary of Homeland Security issued a clarification granting permanent residents a blanket national interest exemption, stating that, “absent the receipt of significant derogatory information indicating a serious threat to public safety and welfare, lawful permanent resident status will be a dispositive factor in our case-by-case determinations.”

In addition to the restrictions noted above, the EO suspends refugee admissions from all countries of origin for a 120-day period, while admission of Syrian refugees is suspended indefinitely. The EO also announces changes to the vetting and adjudication process for immigration benefits generally, directing relevant agencies to enhance screening procedures.

In addition to the entry ban, the EO immediately suspends the visa interview waiver program under which some applicants seeking to renew their nonimmigrant visas are exempted from personal appearances for a visa interview. The suspension applies to all U.S. visa applicants regardless of their nationality or citizenship. As a result, applicants should expect a longer wait to receive a visa interview appointment.

At this time we recommend that nationals and citizens of the seven (7) listed countries who are in the U.S. under a nonimmigrant visa status (such as L-1, H-1B, F-1, etc.) not travel out of the U.S. unless the suspension is lifted, as they will not be allowed to re-enter. For those from the listed countries who are lawful permanent residents of the United States, we advise caution in traveling abroad. Permanent residents should be allowed entry, but they may encounter delays and confusion, as implementation of the EO and related court orders is widely reported to be uneven.

As always, we recommend that all foreign national employees traveling abroad be aware of the processing times and procedures at consulates, should they require visas to return. It is important to plan ahead prior to travel and of course we are happy to assist with the visa application process at U.S. consulates abroad.

Any opinions expressed and any legal positions asserted in the article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the opinions or positions of Miles & Stockbridge P.C. or its other lawyers. This article is for general information purposes and is not intended to be and should not be taken as legal advice on any particular matter. It is not intended to and does not create any attorney-client relationship. Because legal advice must vary with individual circumstances, do not act or refrain from acting on the basis of this article without consulting professional legal counsel. If you would like additional information on the subject matter of this article, please feel free to contact any of the lawyers listed above. If you communicate with us, whether through email or other means, your communication does not establish an attorney-client relationship with either Miles & Stockbridge P.C. or any of the firm's lawyers. At Miles & Stockbridge P.C., an attorney-client relationship can be formed only by personal contact with an individual lawyer, not by email, and requires our agreement to act as your legal counsel together with your execution of a written engagement agreement with Miles & Stockbridge P.C.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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