On Friday, January 27, 2017, President Trump signed an Executive Order stating “I hereby proclaim that the immigrant and nonimmigrant entry into the United States of aliens from countries referred to in section 217(a)(12) of the INA, 8 U.S.C. 1187(a)(12), would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, and I hereby suspend entry into the United States, as immigrants and nonimmigrants, of such persons for 90 days from the date of this order …”
The new rule references a pre-existing list of countries referred to in INA 217(a)(12). We had previously discussed INA 217(a)(12), which imposes restrictions on the Visa Waiver Program for individuals that either travel to or are from those countries. That list includes Iraq, Syria and any country designated as a state sponsor of terrorism, which also includes Iran and Sudan. The department of Homeland Security subsequently expanded that list to include Libya, Somalia, and Yemen.
Most alarmingly, the Executive Order applies not only to individuals with nonimmigrant visas, such as B-1 Visitors, H-1B Professionals, and L-1 Intracompany Transferees, but also to long time Lawful Permanent Residents (LPR) that have already been issued an I-551 (green card). After overwhelming protests and an injunction issued against Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the DHS released a statement on January 29, 2017 deeming that “the entry of lawful permanent residents to be in the national interest.” In a more detailed announcement, the DHS has stated that “Lawful Permanent Residents of the United States traveling on a valid I-551 will be allowed to board U.S. bound aircraft and will be assessed for exceptions at arrival ports of entry, as appropriate.”
Since the provision for a waiver does not apply equally to nonimmigrants, they should avoid traveling abroad. Additionally, even though LPRs may be granted a waiver and allowed admission, that decision is being made on a case-by-case basis and may nevertheless result in being detained. Those affected should contact our office.