FAQS on President Trump’s March 6 Executive Order Impacting Refugees & People from Muslim-majority Countries

NOTICE: following district court rulings in Hawaii and Maryland, this March 6th executive order is subject to a nationwide injunction, blocking the section of the EO that barred nationals from the 6 named countries. Therefore, the following guidance is simply to illustrate how the order, if in place, would impact individuals. Currently it is not active, and individuals from the 6 countries are still free to travel.

For more information about some of the legal challenges to the Mar. 6 EO, see What the Federal Courts Said About President Trump’s Refugee and Muslim Ban 2.0 at https://www.nilc.org/issues/immigration-enforcement/federal-court-rulings-on-refugee-muslim-ban2/.

Please note that the information in this FAQ is not legal advice. Every person’s situation is different, and you should talk to a qualified immigration lawyer or a Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA)–accredited representative so that you can make the most informed decision for yourself.

FAQ courtesy of our friends at NILC. Additional languages coming soon.

Have FAQ suggestions? Email us via info@informedimmigrant.com

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A federal judge in Hawaii who temporarily blocked President Donald Trump’s revised travel ban hours before it was set to take effect issued a longer-lasting order. U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson held a hearing on Wednesday, March 29th, 2017 on Hawaii’s request to extend his temporary hold. Several hours later, he issued a 24-page order blocking the government from suspending new visas for travelers from six Muslim-majority countries and halting the U.S. refugee program.

Currently, there is still a nationwide injunction on this order, meaning individuals from the 6 countries are free to travel, for the time being.

After the state of Washington sued to stop further implementation of the Jan. 27 executive order, on February 3, 2017, a federal district court in Seattle issued a temporary injunction which indefinitely orders that the federal government not (a) bar the entrance into the U.S. of any refugees for 120 days, (b) indefinitely bar Syrian refugees from entering the U.S., (c) bar the entrance of people from seven designated countries (Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen), or (d) “[proceed] with any action that prioritizes the refugee claims of certain religious minorities.” On Feb. 9, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a decision upholding the Seattle court’s order, and implementation of the Jan. 27 EO has been blocked since then.

The EO that Trump signed on March 6 takes effect on March 16, 2017, and, on that date, rescinds the Jan. 27 EO.

Among the most significant differences between the Jan. 27 and Mar. 6 EOs are the following:

  • The Mar. 6 EO removes Iraq from the Jan. 27 EO’s list of seven countries whose nationals are banned from entering the U.S. for a 90-day period. Under the new EO, six countries—Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen—are on the list of countries whose nationals are banned. The new EO claims that these six countries were identified after a factual determination of relevant dangers.
  • The Mar. 6 EO specifically exempts from the ban certain categories of people, including lawful permanent residents (LPRs); nonimmigrant visa–holders who are currently inside the U.S. or who have been in the U.S. but are currently traveling abroad; and people of dual nationality—i.e., they are a national both of one of the six designated countries and of another country—who are traveling to the U.S. on a passport issued by a country other than one of the six designated ones.
  • The Mar. 6 EO removes the “indefinite suspension” of admission into the U.S. of Syrian refugees. While the new EO still calls for a 120-day suspension of admission into the U.S. of any refugees from any country while steps are implemented to conduct “extreme vetting” of refugees, Syrian refugees are no longer singled out or subject to an indefinite bar.

The new executive order contains the following provisions:

Suspends the entire U.S. Refugee Admissions Program for at least 120 days. This means that, regardless of the stage a person has reached in the refugee application process and whether this suspension causes massive delays, their application will not move forward. As noted above, the Mar. 6 EO removes the indefinite ban on Syrian refugees resettling in the U.S.

Bans individuals from six Muslim-majority countries—Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen—from entering the U.S. for at least 90 days, and authorizes the secretaries of State or Homeland Security to add additional countries to this list. The Mar. 6 EO removes Iraq from the list of designated countries.

Includes these categorical exceptions to the ban:

  • any lawful permanent resident of the U.S.;
  • any foreign national who is admitted to or paroled into the U.S. on or after the effective date of this order;
  • any foreign national who has a document other than a visa (a) that is valid on the effective date of this order or issued on any date thereafter
  • and (b) that permits the person to travel to the U.S. and seek entry or admission, such as an advance parole document;
  • any person with dual nationalities, one of which is of one of the six designated countries, who is traveling on a passport issued by a nondesignated country;
  • any foreign national traveling on a diplomatic or diplomatic-type visa, North Atlantic Treaty Organization visa, C-2 visa for travel to the United Nations, or G‑1, G-2, G-3, or G-4 visa; or
  • any foreign national who has been granted asylum; any refugee who has already been admitted to the U.S.; or any person who has been granted withholding of removal, advance parole, or protection under the Convention Against Torture.

Permits entry of lawful permanent residents (LPRs, or “green card”–holders).

Permits entry of people of dual nationality if they are traveling on a passport issued by a non-designated country.

Allows for case-by-case exceptions if the person seeking admission to the U.S. “has demonstrated to the [consular or immigration] officer’s satisfaction” all the following: (a) that denying the person entry “would cause undue hardship,” (b) that their admission would “not pose a threat to national security,” and (c) that their admission “would be in the national interest.” It remains unclear how this exception will be applied.

Permits entry of people with valid visas. Under the Jan. 27 EO, all nonimmigrant and immigrant visas issued to nationals of the seven originally designated countries were immediately suspended, and citizens of these countries were instructed not to attend visa interviews. However, under the Mar. 6 EO, people who are outside the U.S. and had a valid immigrant or nonimmigrant visa as of 5 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on Jan. 27, 2017, or as of Mar. 16, 2017, will not be subject to the ban.

The Mar. 6 EO should not bar you from being readmitted into the U.S. if you travel abroad. However, you should be aware that after the Jan. 27 EO was issued, there were numerous reports that the EO was being applied inconsistently, both at airports in the U.S. and airports overseas where people were attempting to board U.S.-bound flights. Overseas, these inconsistencies affected people who were either departing at the city from which their travel back to the U.S. originated or “in transit,” trying to board connecting U.S.-bound flights. For these reasons, you may want to consult with an immigration attorney before you travel abroad.

If you are a lawful permanent resident and have had problems either boarding a U.S.-bound flight or entering the U.S. once in a U.S. airport, please report your experience to us by completing this short survey:
www.nilc.org/travel-ban-survey: www.nilc.org/travel-ban-survey

You are not subject to the ban and should not be affected if you

  • are a lawful permanent resident;
  • have dual nationality and can travel on a passport issued by a country whose nationals are not subject to the ban;
  • had a valid immigrant or nonimmigrant visa as of 5 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on Jan. 27, 2017, or will have one as of Mar. 16, 2017; or
  • otherwise fall into one of the categorical exceptions listed above (under “Includes these categorical exceptions to the ban”).

However, if you are from one of the six affected countries and the ban exceptions do not apply to you, you may be denied entry or face other issues at the airport when you land in the U.S. and try to be admitted.

You may face delays in your visa application process while the ban is in place. Until there is further guidance, you may not be able to secure your visa. Contact an immigration attorney for further advice.

While you should not be affected by the Mar. 6 EO, before you travel you should get an attorney to represent you and have with you a completed and signed Form G-28 (Notice of Entry of Appearance as Attorney or Accredited Representative). If you cannot get a signed Form G-28 from your attorney before you travel, be sure to have the attorney’s contact information with you. You should be in touch with an immigration attorney at every step of your trip so that they can counsel you and be aware of how your case is being handled.

Do not sign any document that an immigration officer pressures you to sign without first consulting with an attorney!

You are not subject to the ban and should not be affected if you leave the U.S. and try to reenter if you

  • are a lawful permanent resident;
  • have dual nationality and can travel on a passport issued by a country whose nationals are not subject to the ban;
  • had a valid immigrant or nonimmigrant visa as of 5 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on Jan. 27, 2017, or will have one as of Mar. 16, 2017; or
  • otherwise fall into one of the categorical exceptions listed above (under “Includes these categorical exceptions to the ban”).

However, because the Jan. 27 EO was implemented so inconsistently and caused so many problems, we expect that the Mar. 6 EO will also be interpreted and applied inconsistently, creating problems for some travelers. Therefore, we strongly suggest that you consult with an immigration attorney or BIA-accredited representative before you travel outside the U.S.

Lawful permanent residents should not be asked to give up their LPR status. Do not surrender your green card or sign anything unless your attorney is with you. There have been reports of arriving LPRs being asked to surrender their green cards and sign a Form I-407 (Record of Abandonment of Lawful Permanent Resident Status). If you sign this form, you are giving up your LPR status. If you are asked to sign this form, you should refuse to do so and request to speak to the supervisor who handles admissions of LPRs.

The EO applies only to individuals from the six countries. If you are not from one of those countries but just visited one of them, you should not be banned from reentering the U.S.

It is important to note, however, that U.S. government agencies and personnel did not apply the Jan. 27 EO in a uniform, consistent way after it was issued. So be prepared to be questioned or experience delays or other problems before boarding your U.S.-bound flight or when you arrive at your destination airport in the U.S.

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