Today, the Trump Administration issued an Executive Order (“EO”) seeking to replace the travel ban that was imposed in late January and stayed by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. This revised version largely mirrors the previously issued travel ban EO, with some exceptions no doubt implemented to better defend the order again constitutional challenges.
Notably, the principal points of the first order are included in the revised order – (1) the Department of State will cease new visa issuance for citizens of six-majority Muslim countries for a period of 90 days and (2) the US’s refugee program will be suspended for a period of 120 days. In order to avoid the messy immediate roll-out of the previous EO, this EO will NOT go into effect until March 16, 2017.
The travel ban affects nationals and citizens of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen – and does NOT apply to Iraq as the previous order did. Furthermore, the travel ban does not apply to nationals and citizens of these six specified countries who are dual citizens of the U.S., lawful permanent residents of the U.S., or nationals and citizens of these six specified countries who had a valid visa as of January 27, 2017. In other words, the travel ban only prevents issuance of new visas to nationals and citizens of these six specified nations. The EO promises that no valid visas will be revoked solely on the basis the executive order.
The revised order also declares that case-by-case waivers to the ban are available where failure to grant a visa to the otherwise ineligible foreign national would cause undue hardship.
As noted in the original EO, this revised order immediately suspends the Visa Interview Waiver Program for all foreign nationals – not just those from the six specified countries. Under the existing consular system, each consulate had the ability to set a policy on when to waive interviews for those applicants under 14 and over 79 and for those applicants seeking visa renewals. As we stated in the previous advisories, this suspension of the Visa Interview Waiver Program will likely result in longer visa processing times. The order tries to offset the long processing times by reactivating the Consular Fellows program to add more consular officers to visa-issuing posts. We nevertheless have concerns about how these increased consular workloads might affect the quality of visa adjudications. It is clear that the EO will make the process of getting a visa longer and more difficult. Please plan on getting a visa in advance and only if necessary and be sure to confirm your visa appointment before leaving the U.S.
The revised executive order temporarily suspends the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program for 120 days and limits the total number of refugee admissions for 2017 to 50,000 down from roughly 120,000 under the Obama administration. Unlike the previous EO, the revised order does not include an indefinite suspension of Syrian refugees – rather, Syrian refugees are subject to the 120 day ban imposed on all refugees.
We will be issuing continuing guidance regarding the implementation of this EO. Please contact your attorney for case specific guidance if you have international travel planned and believe that the travel ban or visa interview waiver program suspension applies to you.
** This newsletter/memo is provided for informational and discussion purposes only. It does not act as a substitute for direct legal contact on an individual basis **