The President’s Executive Order of Friday, January 27, 2017

The President has issued several Executive Orders (EOs) since taking office. The EO signed January 27, 2017 “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States” has led to tremendous fear and confusion across the country and the world, and has resulted in unprecedented protests at international airports throughout the United States.

While Nankin & Verma PLLC cannot predict with certainty how the EO will impact people in the long term, we can provide some information and clarity about what was included in the EO, and what everyone should be aware of.

The EO has the following effect:

1. Prevents the entry of nationals of Iran, Iraq, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Libya or Yemen to the United States for 120-days;
2. Suspends the Visa Interview Waiver Program (this is not the same as the Visa Waiver Program);
3. Indefinitely prevents all Syrian refugees from entering the United States; and
4. Suspends the admission of refugees from all other countries for 90-days.

Nationals of the Seven Countries

The EO signed and implemented on January 27 states that the President “suspend[s] entry into the United States, as immigrants and nonimmigrants, of such persons [who are nationals of Iran, Iraq, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Libya or Yemen] for 90 days from the date of [the] order.” Of most concern is the fact that immigrants, or persons who have attained lawful permanent residence in the United States, have been included in the ban on travel to the United States. While several lawsuits have been filed and courts around the country have temporarily halted the ban on lawful permanent residents, credible reports from around the country indicate that officials with Customs and Border Protection are still heavily questioning certain lawful permanent residents as they seek to enter the United States, sometimes asking to see all contacts on their cell phones, and checking their social media activities.

Impact on you/your organization:

If you or your employee was born in or is a national of one of the listed countries, you must take steps to ensure that you remain in the United States and maintain your status. While the ban is officially for a period of 120-days, there is a possibility that it could be extended, and any trips outside the United States will jeopardize the ability to return.

Lawful permanent residents must also be cautious in making travel plans, as there are reports that green card holders and U.S. Citizens with ties to the seven countries are still being denied entry or are being sent to secondary inspection. DHS has clarified that as long as the traveler does not have “significant derogatory information,” such as a serious criminal history or links to terrorism, then that LPR traveler will be allowed entry to the U.S., however in practice, the ability to enter the United States is not certain.

Visa Interview Waiver Program (VIWP)

The VIWP allowed for waivers of the interview for applicants seeking to renew nonimmigrant visas within 12 months of expiration of the initial visa in the same classification, for those under 14 and those over 79. The EO now requires that all applicants seeking a visa must undergo an in-person interview.

Significant delays with visa processing times expected:

Employers should immediately caution any foreign nationals from the seven countries against travel outside of the U.S., even if the employee has a valid U.S. visa and is a citizen of a third country. The suspension of the VIWP will likely cause significant delays at U.S. Embassies and Consulates around the world with respect to scheduling visa appointments and obtaining visa issuance. Such delays will severely impact the ability of foreign nationals to travel to the United States on any predictable schedule.

Syrian Refugees

The admission of refugees from Syria has been suspended indefinitely. Unless and until the President is satisfied that the intake of Syrian refugees will align with the national interest goals of the United States, there are no indications that this suspension will be lifted in the near future.

All Other Refugees

The EO suspends intake of all other refugees for 120-days except “refugee claims made by individuals on the basis of religious-based persecution, provided that the religion of the individual is a minority religion in the individual’s country of nationality.” During the suspension, no refugees will be admitted to the United States. The Secretary of State and Secretary of Homeland Security have been directed to devise additional procedures that should be taken to ensure refugee admissions do not pose a threat to national security during this 120-day period. Individuals who are currently in the midst of the refugee application process will only be able to enter the United States if their applications satisfactorily comply with any revised procedures. At the end of the 120-day suspension period, admissions will resume only for nationals of countries where the Secretary of Homeland Security, the Secretary of State, and the Director of National Intelligence have jointly determined that “sufficient safeguards are in place to ensure national security.”

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If you want to talk to an attorney at Nankin & Verma PLLC about this or any other immigration matter, please contact us at:

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