• 31Jan
    H-1B Visa News, L-1 Visa News, L-1 Visas, O-1 Visas Comments Off on INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL ALERT: President Trump’s Executive Order On Immigration

    On late Friday afternoon, January 27th, President Trump issued a controversial Executive Order entitled, “Protecting The Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States” (hereinafter “the Order”). The Order calls for an immediate ban on entry for all foreign nationals from seven (7) countries: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. The Order provides that the travel ban will remain in place for a period of 90 days, while reserving the right to extend such ban beyond 90 days. The Order, as written, applies to refugees, nonimmigrant visa holders (e.g.; H-1B, L-1A, L-1B, E-3, TN-1, TN-2, O-1), U.S. lawful permanent residents (green card holders) and dual nationals (excluding, however, those foreign nationals traveling on 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 also serves to halt all visa issuance to citizens of the seven (7) enumerated countries as well.

    Interpretations and clarifications of the Executive Order are constantly evolving each day and hour as we receive news as to how the Order is being followed by the State Department and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”) ports of entry.

    DHS Update Provides Some Clarification

    The Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) posted an Update on January 29 stating that the ban will only apply if traveling with a passport from one of the 7 countries. As such, being a dual citizen of one of the banned countries alone will not subject the individual to an entry bar if such individual travels with a passport from a country other than one of the listed 7. The same Update advises that the ban does not apply to U.S. permanent residents – even if they were born in one of the 7 countries or may have a claim to citizenship in one of the 7 countries.

    What Does This Mean For The U.S. Employer?

    • Employers should immediately suspend all business-related international travel from/to the United States for any non-U.S. citizen employee who is only a citizen of one of the enumerated countries and not a U.S. permanent resident.
    • Employers should advise any non-U.S. citizen employee who is only a citizen of one of the enumerated countries and not a U.S. permanent resident to remain in the United States and to not engage in any personal international travel.
    • Given the uncertainty created by the Order, and (notwithstanding the recent DHS Update) the conflicting reports we are receiving from some CBP offices, we would strongly encourage employers to suspend all business-related international travel for any non-U.S. citizen employee who is a citizen of one of the enumerated countries — even if he/she has (a) passport from a non-banned country, together with a valid non-immigrant visa, advance parole travel document or re-entry permit or (b) a green card.
    • Along those same lines, if you employ individuals who are citizens of any of the seven (7) countries listed in the Order and who are already outside of the United States, such employees may encounter difficulty at some CBP ports of entry at the present time – even if they travel with (a) passport from a non-banned country, together with a valid non-immigrant visa, advance parole travel document or re-entry permit or (b) a green card.
    • For all other foreign national employees (i.e.; citizens of countries not covered in the Order), the conservative approach is to postpone all visa appointments at U.S. Consulates abroad for the time being unless absolutely necessary. Based on the suspension of the Visa Interview Waiver Program included in the Order, we anticipate visa wait times to increase significantly at all U.S. Consulates abroad, but especially at the consular posts closest to the United States in Canada and elsewhere. If you feel a visa application is absolutely necessary, please be prepared for unexpected delays (i.e.; administrative processing delays) which may require your employees to remain outside of the United States for an extended period of time.
    • Please also advise all foreign national employees seeking to re-enter the United States from a trip abroad to carry all the necessary paperwork (i.e., copy of most recent approval notice, copy of most recent petition, employment verification letter and some recent paystubs). They should expect to experience delays and heightened scrutiny by CBP Officers during the inspection/admission process. If they have been charged with any criminal matters, including a DUI (either in the U.S. or abroad), they should carry original certified copies of the court disposition providing details on the charges, the resolution, and evidence that the matter was satisfactorily resolved.
    • If, upon attempting to enter the United States, an employee is detained by CBP and CBP refuses to admit the employee into the Unites States, the employee should be given the option to withdraw his/her application for admission or to consult with an immigration attorney.

    As one might expect, there exists much confusion among CBP Officers as to the enforcement of the Executive Order, specifically as to who should be kept out of the country. We will provide updates on the implementation and/or interpretations of the Executive Order as they arise, as well as anecdotal evidence as we become aware of the same through our national association AILA and our colleagues.

    If you have any questions in connection with any of the foregoing, please contact our firm’s Immigration Law Group at (973) 602-3440.