President Trump is expected to sign an Executive Order as early as tomorrow entitled “Protecting the Nation from Terrorist Attacks by Foreign Nationals.” Once signed, the order will immediately implement two changes that will directly impact individuals seeking to enter the United States.
The order will create an immediate 30 day bar to enter into the U.S. for nationals of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. The order applies to both immigrants and nonimmigrants, which seems to include U.S. Permanent Residents. Individuals affected by the bar who are currently outside of the United States will not be able to return while the bar is in place. The order sets the bar for 30 days, but it is possible that President Trump will extend it or will add additional countries to the list.
The order will also immediately terminate the Visa Interview Waiver Program, which is a “drop box” program that allows nonimmigrants to renew their existing visa stamps under certain circumstances without attending another visa interview at a U.S. Consulate. The U.S. Consulates in India are likely to be particularly affected by this change, as they rely on a drop box program to address the huge volume of applications being processed. Backlogs may well develop in the availability of visa application appointments as a result of this order.
Finally, the order will suspend admissions of all new refugees for 120 days, with the exception of certain refugees fleeing religious persecution. The order also reduces the number of refugees the United States will accept in Fiscal Year 2017 to no more than 50,000. The previous limit was 110,000. Once the 120 day suspension concludes, the order will allow admission of refugees only if it is determined that sufficient safeguards have been implemented to protect the security and welfare of the United States.
SPS Immigration PLLC is continuing to monitor these developments and will provide further updates as information becomes available.