Executive Order Suspends Entry to U.S. From Designated Countries and Suspends Refugee Program

 
Wednesday, February 1, 2017
 

On January 27, 2017, the President signed an Executive Order signed which provides for a review and establishment of standards to prevent terrorist or criminal infiltration by foreign nationals.  The Executive Order was issued to allow the United States government time to conduct a thorough and comprehensive analysis of the national security risks posed from the immigration system. It imposes a 90-day suspension on entry to the United States of nationals of certain designated countries—Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Iran, Somalia, Libya, and Yemen.

For the 90 days after the signing of the Executive Order, nearly all travelers, except U.S. citizens, traveling on passports from Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Iran, Somalia, Libya, and Yemen will be temporarily suspended from entry to the United States. The 90 day period will allow for proper review and establishment of standards to prevent terrorist or criminal infiltration by foreign nationals.

Importantly, however, 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. Therefore, we expect swift entry for these individuals.

In the first 30 days, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will perform a global country-by-country review of the information each country provides when their citizens apply for a U.S. visa or immigration benefit. Countries will then have 60 days to comply with any requests from the U.S. government to update or improve the quality of the information they provide.

DHS and the Department of State have the authority, on a case-by-case basis, to issue visas or allow the entry of nationals of these countries into the United States when it serves the national interest.  These seven countries were designated by Congress and the Obama Administration as posing a significant enough security risk to warrant additional scrutiny in the visa waiver context.

The Refugee Admissions Program will be temporarily suspended for the next 120 days while DHS and interagency partners review screening procedures to ensure refugees admitted in the future do not pose a security risk to citizens of the United States.

The Executive Order does not prohibit entry of, or visa issuance to, travelers with diplomatic visas, North Atlantic Treaty Organization visas, C-2 visas for travel to the United Nations, and G-1, G-2, G-3, and G-4 visas.  The Order does affect those holding H-1B visas.

The Department of Homeland Security along with the Department of State, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation will develop uniform screening standards for all immigration programs government-wide.

Upon resumption of the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program, refugee admissions to the United States will not exceed 50,000 for fiscal year 2017.

The Department of State will restrict the Visa Interview Waiver Program and require additional nonimmigrant visa applicants to undergo an in-person interview.

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