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President's Executive Order Suspends Entry Into U.S. for Foreign Nationals from Seven Countries and Impacts Visa Processing

Travel Advisory
The President has signed an Executive Order that suspends the entry of foreign nationals from seven countries into the United States for a period of 90 days, including Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Yemen, and Iran. The Executive Order was issued on January 27, 2017 and will likely be expanded to include additional countries. The ban applies to both “immigrants and nonimmigrants,” which means that it covers those with a temporary visa, foreign nationals holding a U.S. immigrant visa, and U.S. lawful permanent residents.

Foreign Nationals Subject to Ban Should Avoid International Travel
If you are a national or dual national of any of the listed seven countries, we recommend that you avoid any international travel at this time and remain in the United States. Foreign nationals who are subject to the ban and are already in the United States should avoid international travel for at least the next 90 days. Those who are currently out of the United States will likely be denied re-entry into the U.S. while this ban is in effect.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that while U.S. Lawful Permanent Residents (LPR) are subject to the travel ban, they will be permitted to enter the country absent significant evidence that they are a threat to public safety and welfare.  Although this is the current administration policy with regard to LPRs, there have been multiple reports that DHS is not uniformly complying with this directive.  If you are an LPR who is a national of one of the 7 countries listed on the Executive Order, we recommend that you contact Ryan Swanson prior to any travel outside the U.S.  The Administration’s policy relating to LPRs is subject to change at any time.

Processing Delays for Nonimmigrant and Immigrant Visa Applications
All applications and petitions filed with USCIS for individuals from the above listed seven countries will be suspended during the 90-day period, and then subject to additional scrutiny and delays in processing.

Suspension of Visa Interview Waiver Program
In addition to the entry ban, the executive order suspends the visa interview waiver program at U.S. Consulates worldwide.  The visa interview waiver program exempted some visa renewal applicants from an in-person consular interview. Now, with few exceptions, all applicants for nonimmigrant visas must attend an in-person interview at the U.S. Consulate abroad. The suspension of the interview waiver program will impact wait times for all visa interviews at U.S. Consulates overseas regardless of country of nationality or citizenship, and increase wait times for visa issuance after interviews.  Only foreign diplomats will be exempt from the visa interview requirement.

The order also calls for the development of expansive changes to screening processes and background security checks for all U.S. immigration programs.  In combination with a federal government hiring freeze, visa applicants, as well as those submitting immigration petitions and applications to USCIS and the State Department, will likely experience delays in processing.

Ryan Swanson is closely monitoring the implementation of the Administration’s immigration actions and will provide updates as additional information is available.  If you have any questions regarding how this may impact you or your foreign national employees, please contact our Immigration Group.

This message has been released by the Immigration Group at Ryan, Swanson & Cleveland, PLLC to advise of recent developments in the law. Because each situation is different, this information is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended to provide legal advice on any specific facts and circumstances. Ryan, Swanson & Cleveland, PLLC is a full-service law firm located in Seattle, Washington.

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