Prepared by Immigration Lawyer Afia Yunus from Yunus Law
On March 6, 2017, President Trump signed a new executive order rescinding his prior “Muslim Ban” and creating new rules relating to immigration. A summary of the major points is below:
Who is banned from entry?
Foreign nationals from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Sudan, Yemen who are outside the US and who do not hold a valid visa as of March 16, 2017. The ban lasts for 90 days.
Are there any exceptions?
Yes. Anyone who holds a valid visa as of 3/16/17 is not barred from entry. Also, the following are exceptions to the ban:
1. Lawful permanent residents
2. Dual nationals are not subject to the ban so long as they present their passport from the unaffected country.
3. Diplomatic visa holders
4. Individuals granted protection under the Convention Against Torture
If I’m in the U.S. on a valid visa from those 6 affected countries, can I travel outside the US and return?
Yes. Valid visa holders currently in the U.S. are eligible for travel in and out of the U.S. The ban excludes nationals from the 6 countries inside the US on a valid visa.
If I’m from the 6 countries and hold a valid visa, will my visa be revoked?
Visas will not be revoked solely as a result of the executive order.
Is a waiver from the ban available?
Yes. If an individual can show “undue hardship” and prove they are not a “threat to national security” and it is within the “national interest” to be granted the visa or entry. The following are also bases for a waiver:
- If you were outside the US on 3/6/17 + you were previously admitted to the US for continuous work, study, or other lawful activity + you seek entry to resume that same activity + denial of entry will impair that activity.
- If you have “established significant contacts” with the US and you were outside the US on 3/6/17
- If you have significant professional or business obligations in the US
- If you intend to live with or visit a close family member who is lawfully in the US and denial would cause undue hardship
- If you are a young child or need urgent medical care in the US
- If you are a Canadian immigrant who applied for a US visa in Canada
- If you are employed by the US government and have demonstrated valuable service
- If you must conduct business with the US government or such business is related to an international organization
- If you are an exchange visitor (J1 visa applicant) sponsored by the US government
I noticed Iraqi nationals are left out of this order, are they affected?
Iraqi nationals are excluded from the entry ban. The order directs various government agencies to implement additional review procedures for Iraqi applicants suspected of ties to terrorist organizations or coming from territories with such ties.
Are refugees affected by this order?
The order suspends the refugee program for 120 days. This does not apply to refugees who have already been scheduled for transit as of 3/16/17.
After 120 days, individuals already granted refugee status can resume travel to the US and the refugee program can resume decision making on applications only for stateless individuals and nationals of countries that the government decides ensures national security.
I was granted refugee/asylee status in the US and traveled abroad, can I return to the US?
Returning refugees and asylees are explicitly excepted from this Executive Order. They can travel as long as they meet all other requirements.
Is a waiver available from the refugee ban?
Yes, waivers can be granted on a case-by-case basis. If the government determines the refugee’s entry is within the national interest and does not pose a threat to national security, a waiver can be granted. A waiver is also available for refugees who can show “undue hardship.”
What about visas that were revoked during the first Executive Order?
If your visa was revoked or cancelled under the prior EO, you are entitled to a travel document to be allowed entry into the US. Also, the cancellation or revocation of your visa under the prior EO can not be held against you in future applciations.
Are current applications for Green Card and citizenship affected by this order?
No. USCIS will continue processing these applications as usual.
I am a U.S. Citizen, am I affected by this order?
No. The order does not prevent entry of U.S. citizens or green card holders, regardless of whether you are a national of one of the 6 affected countries.
Anything else I should know?
There are several provisions in the order that address other issues. The President orders his agencies to determine how state and local governments can help with the resettling of refugees.
He also orders an implementation of the fingerprint entry-exit program and suspends the visa interview waiver program, which were both provisions of the previous executive order.
The President orders his agencies to review the visa reciprocity schedules. This lays out the visa fees and validity periods with each country. He wants to ensure that the fees and validity periods are indeed reciprocal between the US and foreign countries.
Finally, the President orders the creation of an information gathering database to be made public. This database will have the information of foreign natoinals who committed terrorist related activities since 9/11.