What’s going to happen to me at the airport?  Will I be asked to sign a form giving up my permanent residence on the airplane?  Are more countries being added to the list?  Has the immigration service stopped working on immigration cases?  What about dual citizens?  These are just some of the questions we have heard from clients in recent days.  And the truth is that anyone who is not a U.S. citizen should think carefully about these issues before leaving the United States for international travel.

This advisory is to offer information about travel and a summary of the rapidly changing executive order situation.  If you have further questions about your individual case, call our office at 615-647-8628.

Executive Orders.  President Trump has signed three immigration-related executive orders so far: 1) border security (this is the build-a-wall order), 2) law enforcement (making all undocumented people a “priority” for deportation – we will post more about this to our website as the order starts to be implemented), and 3) national security and refugees (this is the “Muslim ban” order).   There are rumors of more to come.  We address rumors at the end.

Seven Countries Ban.  Here is what the travel ban (Executive Order #3) ordered:

  • Provisional revocation of visas of nationals of seven countries – Iran, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Libya, and Sudan.
  • No entry for nationals of those seven countries.  At first this included lawful permanent residents and dual citizens (unless also U.S. citizens).  Lawsuits caused the White House to back down, though, and lawful permanent residents were taken off the ban list, as well as dual citizens who were then being allowed to enter using their other passport.
  • Suspension of refugee admissions for at least 120 days for all countries.
  • Suspension of interview waiver program at all consulates abroad.  This is not the same at all as suspending the visa waiver program.  Interview waiver was really just a tool for consulates to offer faster service by not having to interview every person renewing a visa.
  • The order also caused the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) to announce they would stop processing of most immigration applications for nationals of the seven countries.

Ban Cancelled by Federal Judge 2/3/17.  Lawsuits followed immediately.  A variety of federal judges have issued orders covering different airports and different classes of people.  On Friday, February 3, 2017, a federal district court judge in Washington state issued an Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) against the Executive Order.  The TRO has nationwide effect, and Customs and Border Protection officers at airports around the country are now required to inspect and admit nationals of the seven countries as usual.  USCIS has re-started adjudications of cases as usual.  This is a roller coaster, but remember, it only applies to citizens of Iran, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Libya, and Sudan.  Anyone from those seven countries should consult individually with an immigration attorney before attempting to fly to the United States.

Travel for Everyone Else. People who are citizens of countries not listed in the third Executive Order are not affected.  Passing through immigration at the airport may take longer now, so schedule connecting flights accordingly.  It is probable that a greater percentage of travelers will be placed in secondary inspection.  This doesn’t necessarily mean Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers think you are a criminal – this is often just so a supervisor can access a more in-depth database.  CBP officers are human beings, and they make mistakes sometimes.  You should always check your I-94 record of arrival online after arriving in the United States to make sure it was done correctly by CBP.  If not, contact our office to arrange having the I-94 fixed.  If you feel a CBP officer treated you inappropriately or abusively, please let us know and we can discuss lodging a complaint.  Avoid unnecessary travel, but if you need to travel abroad make sure you have all the documents you will need before you leave.

Documents for Travel.

  • U.S. citizen – your U.S. passport
  • Lawful permanent resident – your foreign passport and LPR card, often called the Green Card.  If you are a permanent resident and worried anyway, maybe because of an arrest record, the amount of time you were outside the United States, or for some other reason, call our office.  Rumors have been flying about people being asked to sign Forms I-407 Abandonment of Lawful Permanent Resident Status.  Don’t sign one.
  • H-1B (or O or P or Q or R) visa holder – foreign passport with at least six months of remaining validity with visa stamped inside.  You might also want to carry your H-1B petition approval notice (Form I-797).
  • L-1B visa holder – foreign passport with at least six months of remaining validity with L-1B visa stamped inside; endorsed I-129S.
  • B, E, TN visa holder – foreign passport with at least six months of remaining validity with visa stamped inside
  • F or J visa holders – endorsed SEVIS forms (I-20 or DS-2019), foreign passport with at least six months of remaining validity with visa stamped inside, and Employment Authorization Document (EAD) if you have been issued one

Rumors.  There have been so many people leaking information from the White House, or claiming to leak confidential information from the White House, that it is difficult to separate truth from fiction.  In particular, a rumor is circulating saying that the Philippines, Egypt, Colombia and Venezuela, among other nations, will be added to the ban list.  The Department of State clarified during the week of January 30, 2017, that rumor is uncorroborated.  We do not have a guarantee more countries will not be added, but there is no confirmed information indicating more countries will be involved.

** This summary is current as of Saturday, February 4, 2017. **