Trump Administration’s Revised Travel Ban — What You Need to Know

On Monday, March 6, the Trump Administration issued its revised “travel ban,” formally known as the “Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry To The United States” Executive Order. It is effective on March 16, 2017.
 

What Are Some of the Key Provisions from the Revised Executive Order?

Some of its key provisions include:

  • The suspension of immigrant and nonimmigrant entry for a minimum of 90 days for people from Sudan, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia and Yemen who are outside of the United States on the effective date of this order and who did not have a valid visa at 5:00 pm Eastern Standard Time on January 27, 2017.
    • Iraq is exempted from this new ban.
    • In the first 20 days, DHS will perform a global, country-by-country review of the identity and security information that each country provides to the U.S. Government to support U.S. visa and other immigration benefit determinations. Countries will then have 50 days to comply with the requests from the U.S. Government to update or improve the quality of the information they provide. If the U.S. Government is not satisfied with the efforts, the 90 day suspension could be extended indefinitely.
  • Requires in-person interviews for all nonimmigrant visa applicants, except for diplomatic visas, UN and NATO visas and specific statutory exceptions for children under the age of 14 and elderly applicants over the age of 80.
    • In the past, most nonimmigrant (e.g. F-1, H-1B, J-1, L-1, O-1) visa applicants applying for renewals could apply by mail – this option is no longer available as an in-person interview is now required. For example, an H-1B applying for their 2nd H-1B is no longer eligible to apply for the visa by mail, s/he must attend an in-person interview at a U.S. embassy or consulate. Similarly, an F-1 graduate student applying for another F-1 during the same program must now apply in-person at a U.S. embassy or consulate.
  • The suspension of the refugee program for 120 days although refugees already vetted and in transit could continue their journey to safety.

 

Who is Exempt From the Revised Executive Order?

The following are exempt (i.e. not impacted) from the revised travel ban:

  • Foreign nationals traveling on diplomatic, NATO, C-2 for United Nationals, G-1, G-2, G-3, or G-4 visas and individuals already granted asylum or refugee status in the United States before the effective date of this order.
  • Permanent residents or Green Card holders from Sudan, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia and Yemen.
  • Foreign nationals from Sudan, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia and Yemen (and their dependents) who have valid nonimmigrant (e.g. E-1, E-2, F-1, H-1B, H-3, I, J-1, L-1, O-1, O-2, P-1, P-3, etc.) or immigrant visas.
    • Nonimmigrant visa holders (and their dependents) such as Es, F-1s, J-1s, H-1Bs, L-1s, O-1s may continue to travel to the United States on those visas if they are otherwise valid. However, if the visa is a single-entry visa or has expired, we do not recommend any international travel.
    • Individuals from these 6 countries with advance parole travel documents or combo cards may continue to travel to the United States as long as the parole or combo card is valid.
  • Dual nationals (e.g. born in Iran with a Swedish passport) presenting passports from unrestricted countries.
  • Canadian landed immigrants who hold passports from one of the 6 countries are eligible to apply for a visa in Canada and coordinate a waiver (where the foreign national must show that his or her entry into the United States is in the national interest, will not pose a threat to national security, and that denying entry during the suspension period will cause undue hardship).
  • Foreign nationals from Sudan, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia and Yemen who are already physically present in the United States.
  • USCIS will continue to adjudicate all nonimmigrant (e.g. E-1, E-2, F-1, H-1B, H-3, I, J-1, L-1, O-1, O-2, P-1, P-3, etc.) and immigrant (green card/I-485 Adjustment of Status applications) visa and citizenship applications from nationals of these 6 countries. USCIS will also continue to adjudicate EAD and OPT applications from nationals of the 6 countries.

It is important to note that the Executive Order does not apply to the foreign nationals from Sudan, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia and Yemen who are already physically present in the United States on the effective date of the Executive Order. This includes those holding valid nonimmigrant status such as an E-1, E-2, F-1, H-1B, H-3, I, J-1, L-1, O-1, O-2, P-1, P-3, etc.
 

What About International Travel For Foreign Nationals From Sudan, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia and Yemen Who are Already in the United States?

Based on these new developments, we do not recommend any international travel for foreign nationals from Sudan, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia and Yemen who have to renew nonimmigrant visas while abroad. Nationals of these 6 countries should remain in the United States for now.
 

What About International Travel For Foreign Nationals From Unrestricted Countries?

The revised travel ban does not impact foreign nationals from unrestricted countries who have valid nonimmigrant visas. While these are troubling times, we believe that you should continue to make international travel plans – vacations, business trips, visit friends and family, take your dream vacation or check off a destination from your bucket list (unless that destination is one of the 6 countries). Having said that, foreign nationals should be diligent and ensure that all of their documents are in order to ensure a smooth re-entry at CBP on return to the United States. This means that:

  • If you have a nonimmigrant visa (e.g. E-1, E-2, H-1B, H-3, L-1, O-1, O-2, P-1, P-3), you must have a valid visa “stamp” in your passport and should carry your I-797 Approval Notice, along with a business card or employment verification letter.
  • If you are dual national with a passport from an unrestricted country, you must have a valid visa “stamp” in your passport and you should carry your I-797 Approval Notice, along with a business card or employment verification letter.
  • If you are a Canadian dual national (e.g. Canadian passport holder born in Sudan), you are visa exempt, but you should carry your I-797 Approval Notice (except for TNs who applied at the border/airport who do not have an I-797 Approval Notice) along with a business card or employment verification letter.
  • If you are an E-1 or E-2 visa holder and applied for your E visa directly at a U.S. embassy or consulate abroad, you will not have an I-797 Approval Notice, but you must have a valid E visa “stamp” in your passport and you should carry a business card or employment verification letter.
  • If you are an F-1 student, you must have a valid F-1 visa “stamp” in your passport and an I-20 that has been endorsed for travel within the last six months.
  • If you are an F-1 student on OPT or STEM OPT, you should have your EAD (or receipt notice if pending), a valid F-1 visa “stamp” in your passport and an I-20 that has been endorsed for travel within the last six months.
  • If you are a J-1 student, you must have a valid J-1 visa “stamp” in your passport and a DS-2019 that has been endorsed for travel.
  • If you are travelling with a combo card or Advance Parole travel document, you will be sent to secondary inspection as part of the routine process.
  • NOTE: If you are a Canadian landed immigrant from one of the 6 countries, you must have a valid visa “stamp” in your passport and you should carry your I-797 Approval Notice along with a business card or employment verification letter. Canadian landed immigrants will have to obtain a waiver at the port-of-entry.

 

What About Travel For Foreign Nationals From Unrestricted Countries to Sudan, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia and Yemen?

Travelers from unrestricted countries visiting Sudan, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Yemen and even Iraq are likely to be sent to secondary inspection and questioned upon return to the United States. We recommend avoiding travel to these countries unless absolutely necessary.