UPDATED January 30, 2017. Changes in italics
The situation is changing hourly, so please check back frequently as we update this alert.
What countries are affected by the ban?
The countries involved are: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. The Executive Order (EO) refers to "aliens", "foreign nationals" and "nationals", so the language is inconsistent. It may include dual nationals.
The EO also allows states that "the United States should not admit those who engage in acts of bigotry or hatred (including "honor" killings, other forms of violence against women, or the persecution of those who practice religions different from their own) or those who would oppress Americans of any race, gender, or sexual orientation." This means that the ban could extend beyond the 7 named countries, and is clearly aimed at people from Muslim countries.
What type of immigrants are affected by the ban?
The ban applies to anyone entering the US who meets the nationality requirements described above. It applies to refugees, asylum seekers, visitors, nonimmigrant visa holders and even permanent residents (green card holders). The ban excludes some diplomatic visas.
I thought green card holders were OK?
UPDATE 2/2/17: the White House announced that permanent residents were excluded from the ban. We don't know if immigration officers at the airport are following this guidance yet.
1/28/17: The EO applies to "immigrants", i.e. permanent residents (LPRs). However, after massive protests and complaints about this aspect of the ban, DHS issued a statement stating that LPRs could be allowed into the US. The statement did not remove the "immigrant" language from the ban, but stated that "...absent 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 other words, LPRs may be admitted if the admitting officer at the airport feels that they are not a threat.
How long does the ban last?
The ban lasts for 90 days, starting from yesterday, January 27, 2017.
I am from one of those countries - can I travel outside the US?
We strongly recommend that you do not travel outside the US until further notice.
I have an application pending with USCIS. Will that be affected?
Unfortunately, pending applications will probably be placed on hold. The EO section that refers to the ban states that it "...suspend[s] entry into the United States...." (emphasis added). However, other sections refer to "...other benefit.." This could include nonimmigrant visa extensions, citizenship applications, etc. We are hearing rumors that some immigration officers have been told to stop working on applications involving nationals of the 7 countries (1/30/17)
Are there any exceptions to the ban?
The EO provides that the "Secretaries of State and Homeland Security may, on a case-by-case basis and when in the national interest, issue visas or other immigration benefits.." This waiver was applied to one of the first people affected by the ban, http://www.cnn.com/2017/01/28/politics/2-iraqis-file-lawsuit-after-being-detained-in-ny-due-to-travel-ban/index.html.
This is much more in the EO, referring to the suspension of refugee admissions for 120 days, suspension of the visa waiver interview program, etc. These will be covered in another blog posting in the next few days.
If you have any questions about this matter, please contact Elaine Martin, immigration lawyer.
From the website of the American Immigration Lawyers' Association (AILA):
Update from 1:30pm (ET):
BREAKING: President Trump's Press Secretary Sean Spicer just announced two Executive Orders on immigration enforcement. Here are quick notes from the press conference:
The actual language of these executive orders is not yet available, though Spicer said he would get the orders to press "ASAP." Here are some questions asked by press, and how they were answered:
USCIS has published the final rule establishing new program for international entrepreneurs. The draft rule was discussed in an earlier blog posting here. The final rule should take effect on July 17, 2017.
The final rule grants parole status to an entrepreneur of a start-up who has an active role in the business. Successful applicants would not have a fixed visa status such as H-1B or E-2. Instead, they would be paroled into the US for up to 30 months initially, to work for the start-up.
1. The entrepreneur must have established a U.S. start-up business within five years before applying for
2. The business must have done some business, and have "substantial potential for rapid growth and
3. The entrepreneur must own at least 10% of the start-up.
4. The entrepreneur be actively involved in managing the business, not be a passive investor.
5. The start-up must have received either
(a) investments of at least $250,000 from established U.S. investors (such as venture capital firms, angel investors, or start-up accelerators) with a history of substantial investment in successful start-up entities; or (b) at least $100,000 in grants or awards from Federal, State or local government entities with expertise in economic development, research and development, or job creation.
Entrepreneurs who are unable to satisfy the funding criteria may qualify if they provide other compelling evidence of the start-up’s substantial potential for rapid growth and job creation.
The private and government funding must meet strict criteria laid out in the regulations, designed to "...mitigate potential misuse of the parole process, including by individuals or entities that may claim to be bona fide investors to conceal fraud or other illicit activity."
The investment and revenue amounts will be adjusted every 3 years.
FORMS AND FEES
The parole application will be made on a new Form I-941 (Application for Entrepreneur Parole) with a filing fee of $1200 + $85 biometrics fee. Dependent filing fees are $575 + biometric fee per person. The form has not yet been published.
The parole could be renewed for another 30 months if the applicant meets all of the following criteria:
There is no required wage obligation for the parole beneficiary, but to maintain parolee status the parole beneficiary must maintain a household income that is greater than 400% of the Federal poverty guideline for his or her household size as defined by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
The spouse and minor (under 21) children of an entrepreneur would be granted parole for the same period as the primary applicant. Spouses would be eligible for work authorization.
The category differs from investor visas such as E-2 or EB-5, in that the new parole status does not require that the applicant have invested her own money in the business. The category also does not lead to permanent residence. The entrepreneur will need to qualify in some existing category.
The entire rule is available here.
For more information, contact Elaine Martin, Dallas Immigration Lawyer.
January 12, 2017 - The United States is revoking the so-called “wet-foot/dry-foot” policy for Cuban migrants that has been in place since the mid-1990s. Effective immediately, Cuban nationals who attempt to illegally enter the United States will be subject to removal, consistent with US enforcement priorities. The United States is also ending the special Cuban Medical Professional Parole program.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) states that
"[t]hese actions are part of the ongoing normalization of relations between the governments of the United States and Cuba, and reflect a commitment to have a broader immigration policy in which we treat people from different countries consistently. To the extent permitted by the current laws of our two countries, the United States will now treat Cuban migrants in a manner consistent with how it treats others; unauthorized migrants can expect to be removed unless they qualify for humanitarian relief under our laws."
the change ends the “wet-foot, dry-foot” policy, adopted by the Clinton administration in 1996 at a time when illegal seaborne migrants were flooding across the Florida Straits. That policy differentiated between those reaching U.S. soil - who were allowed to stay - and those intercepted at sea by the U.S. Coast Guard - who were returned to Cuba or sent to third countries.
According to news reports, the total number of Cubans admitted after reaching here without visas by land or sea was 4,890 in 2013. In 2016, the number was 53,416. According to the Coast Guard, 1,885 people traveling by sea have either arrived here or been intercepted — and sent back — in fiscal 2017, which began Oct. 1.
The Government of Cuba has agreed to begin to accept the return of Cuban nationals who have been ordered removed. Cuba and the United States will work to further discourage unlawful migration to the United States and promote bilateral cooperation to prevent and prosecute alien smuggling and other crimes related to illegal migration.
To view the Joint Statement of the United States and Cuban governments, please click here. To view the Fact Sheet, please click here.
Elaine Martin has been practising US and global immigration law since 1997. She is an immigrant herself (from Ireland), so has a special understanding of the legal and emotional challenges involved in relocating to a new country.