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News & Publications

January 31, 2017

FAQ: Trump’s Travel Ban and You

Implementation of President Trump’s Executive Order has been chaotic. We have received conflicting reports regarding its scope and application. The answers below, which we will seek to keep up-to-date, are based on our best understanding of the situation as it stands. If you have a legal question specific to your case, it is best to consult with a practicing immigration attorney.

  1. Who does the Executive Order apply to?
  2. Are U.S. legal permanent residents (i.e., green card holders) being allowed back into the United States?
  3. Does the Executive Order continue to restrict the travel of foreign dual nationals (e.g. a French-Iranian who holds a French passport and an Iranian passport)?
  4. Does the Executive Order continue to restrict the travel of Iranian foreign nationals with current visas to the United States?
  5. Are visas being revoked for U.S. visa holders who haven’t entered the U.S. yet?
  6. Are visas being revoked for current US visa holders presently within the United States?
  7. What should someone do if they need to renew their visa or change visa status?
  8. Will the USCIS automatically deny my visa renewal or status change because I am from one of the seven targeted countries?
  9. Should U.S. visa holders attempt to immediately return to the U.S. immediately as a result of the court stays?
  10. Should Iranian Americans be concerned about flying to Iran and returning to the United States due to this executive order?
  11. What should I do if I currently hold a valid U.S. visa or green card, but the airline will not permit me to board my flight?
  12. Should I avoid overseas travel from the U.S. if I’m a U.S. lawful permanent resident or holder of a valid U.S. visa?
  13. Can I apply for asylum if I am already in the United States?
  14. How can I take action?
  15. What is NIAC doing to reverse the order?

 

  1. Who does the Executive Order apply to?

The Executive Order applies to U.S. legal permanent residents (LPRs), those holding a valid immigrant or non-immigrant visa, and individuals with refugee applications approved by USCIS as part of the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program, provided that such persons are nationals of the following countries: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen. Persons who are seeking status in the United States and are nationals of the affected countries will also be negatively affected by the Order.   


  1. Are U.S. legal permanent residents (i.e., green card holders) being allowed back into the United States?

The Executive Order provides the Secretaries of State and Homeland Security with the authority to issue visas or other immigration benefits, on a case-by-case basis, when doing so is in the national interest. Following significant backlash due to widespread reports of the detainment of legal permanent residents, on January 29, Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly publicly announced that the entry of legal permanent residents (LPRs) into the United States was in the national interest. As a result, LPRs should be able to enter into the United States “absent the receipt of significant derogatory information indicating a serious threat to public safety and welfare.” We do not yet know the process to which U.S. legal permanent residents who are also Iranian nationals will be subject upon entry into the United States. If you or someone you know are legal permanent residents and are detained or in the process of removal pursuant to the Executive Order, please contact us immediately.


  1. Does the Executive Order continue to restrict the travel of foreign dual nationals (e.g. a French-Iranian who holds a French passport and an Iranian passport)?

Yes, we believe that it does, although there have been varying reports. For instance, certain countries — such as Canada and the United Kingdom — have announced that they have reached an understanding with the United States that the Executive Order will not apply to their nationals (even if such nationals also possess dual citizenship with Iran or one of the other target States). The Department of Homeland Security has published its own FAQs, which states that “travelers are being treated according to the travel document they present.”  As a result, a Canadian-Iranian dual national presenting a Canadian passport would be “processed for entry,” according to DHS. However, we have heard that there may be further restrictions to this rule.

  1. Does the Executive Order continue to restrict the travel of Iranian foreign nationals with current visas to the United States?

Yes. Over the weekend, the United States District Court of the District of Massachusetts imposed a temporary restraining order on the detention or removal of individuals holding valid immigrant and non-immigrant visas and other individuals from the affected countries legally authorized to enter the United States. As part of this Order, Customs and Border Protection is obligated to notify airlines that have flights arriving at Logan Airport (Boston) that such individuals will not be detained or returned on the basis of the Executive Order. There is confusion as to whether the Order applies nationally or is instead limited to the jurisdiction in which the Order was entered. As a result, certain legal groups have recommended that foreign nationals of the affected countries with U.S. visas should fly into Logan Airport (Boston) if they seek entry into the United States. We are not able to satisfactorily determine whether such individuals will indeed be granted entry to the United States or allowed to board their flights.   


  1. Are visas being revoked for U.S. visa holders who haven’t entered the U.S. yet?

We have not yet seen reports that a person outside the United States and holding a valid immigrant or non-immigrant visa has had their visa revoked pursuant to the Executive Order.  If you do hear reports of this, please contact us immediately.  


  1. Are visas being revoked for current US visa holders presently within the United States?

We have not seen reports indicating that a person resident in the United States has had their visa revoked pursuant to the Executive Order. If you do hear reports of this, please contact us immediately.  


  1. What should someone do if they need to renew their visa or change visa status?

It appears that U.S. embassies and consulates have suspended the processing of visa applications and renewals pending further instructions.  For example, U.S. embassies in the United Arab Emirates and Sudan have shared the following message:

Per U.S. Presidential Executive Order signed on January 27, 2017, visa issuance to aliens from the countries of Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen has been suspended effective immediately until further notification. If you are a national, or dual national, of one of these countries, please do not schedule a visa appointment or pay any visa fees at this time. If you already have an appointment scheduled, please DO NOT ATTEND your appointment as we will not be able to proceed with your visa interview. Please note that certain travel for official governmental purposes, related to official business at or on behalf of designated international organizations, on behalf of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, or by certain officials is not subject to this suspension.

If you have received notice from USCIS cancelling your planned visas renewal or status change, please contact us immediately.

  1. Will the USCIS automatically deny my visa renewal or status change because I am from one of the seven targeted countries?

We are aware of several instances in which USCIS has denied visa renewal applications, but we have not yet seen indications of an automatic policy in this regard.  We will be sure to update this answer should we receive clarifying information.


  1. Should U.S. visa holders attempt to immediately return to the U.S. immediately as a result of the court stays?

We are unable to satisfactorily answer this question. Affected individuals will need to weigh several factors, including, but not limited to, financial cost, family, the risks of being detained at a U.S. port of entry, and the risk of being permanently barred from the United States once the court orders expire.  That is a personal calculation respective to each individual.  


  1. Should Iranian Americans be concerned about flying to Iran and returning to the United States due to this executive order?

By its terms, the Executive Order does not apply to U.S. citizens, including U.S.-Iran dual nationals. U.S.-Iran dual nationals should thus not face any additional scrutiny upon their return to the U.S. from Iran as a result of the Executive Order. However, this does not preclude the Department of Homeland Security from implementing a vigorous screening process for individuals returning from Iran or the other countries targeted under the Executive Order

News reports indicate that Iran will impose restrictions on U.S. travel to Iran in reciprocity for the Executive Order.  We do not believe that this will impact U.S.-Iran dual nationals, as the Executive Order itself does not target U.S.-Iran dual nationals and Iran does not recognize dual citizenship.  However, we will continue to monitor the situation as to the scope of the travel ban should Iran decide to impose travel restrictions.   


  1. What should I do if I currently hold a valid U.S. visa or green card, but the airline will not permit me to board my flight?

Most airline websites state that travel to the U.S. would only be permitted for those in possession of a permanent resident card (i.e., a green card). There have been some reports of other visa holders being allowed to board if they sign an agreement to pay a fee in case of deportation. Call your airline and find out before purchasing a ticket if possible. Currently, Logan International Airport (Boston) is the most favorable port of entry for those affected as detention is prohibited by court order, although this court order expires February 4.

  1. Should I avoid overseas travel from the U.S. if I’m a U.S. lawful permanent resident or holder of a valid U.S. visa?

Yes. Until there is greater clarity as to how the Executive Order will be implemented, we recommend all U.S. legal permanent Residents and visa holders avoid travel outside the United States.


  1. Can I apply for asylum if I am already in the United States?

Yes. Asylum claims require the claimant to be in the U.S. and make the claim within one year of entry. Claims must be made based on a credible fear of persecution if returned.


  1. How can I take action?

There are many ways for you to get involved so that we can win this fight.

  1. What is NIAC doing to reverse the order?

We are executing a three-pronged strategy to block and reverse Trump’s discriminatory Executive Order:

1) Congressional action. Congress can pass legislation to revoke the order, revoke the President’s authorities to carry out such an order, and/or block funding for the implementation of the order. NIAC Action is organizing NOW to convince lawmakers to take on such an approach.

2) Legal action. We are currently evaluating a lawsuit to reverse this Executive Order, including working in-house and with legal experts in private practice and at other civil rights organizations to pursue the most effective legal path forward.

3) Public pressure. We are mobilizing both our membership and seeking to mobilize others galvanized by the order. Further, we are making sure our message is in the media to ensure the impact of this action is understood by the broader American public. These actions will be critical in channeling public opinion and bolstering all of our efforts.

DISCLAIMER: This document is not intended as legal advice. The answers provided are based on extensive research and NIAC’s understanding at the time of release. If you have a legal question specific to your case, it is best to consult with a practicing immigration attorney.

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