Immigration Ban on Foreign Nationals from Seven Countries

Do Not EnterGreen-card holders and temporary workers from seven targeted countries found themselves living in total uncertainty last Friday night. President Trump?s Executive Order, as it was written, bars entry of both immigrants and nonimmigrants from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen.  

On its face, the Executive Order would bar immigrants - green card holders - from those countries from being able to return to the U.S. after travel abroad, or even from returning to the U.S. if they were abroad last Friday when this travel ban was signed.  In other words, people who have lived in the U.S. as green card holders for five, ten, or twenty or more years would not be able to re-enter the U.S. from abroad - whether they obtained their green card as a refugee, through a family member, or even through a self-petition for people so extraordinary in their field that they do not even need a sponsor.

Since last Friday, the Trump administration has pulled back as to how this applies to green card holders. Now they are saying that green card holders are eligible for a waiver of this ban, as it is in the national interest to allow them in.

For dual passport holders, such as Iranians or Iraqis who also hold a passport from the United Kingdom or from Canada, those countries are saying that they have been advised by the Trump administration that their country's dual nationals can enter on their UK or Canadian passport.  However, as of this writing it remains unclear if dual passport holder of countries other than the United Kingdom and Canada would be allowed to enter with their second passport. 

But for nonimmigrant visa holders, such as H-1B professional workers, F-1 students, or O-1 professors and researchers, the door to the U.S. has closed.  At least for the next 90 days.  That means an F-1 student who went abroad to attend a funeral, or an H-1B who traveled abroad for their employer - cannot return to the U.S. until this travel ban is lifted.

The manner in which this travel ban is being carried out has been totally inconsistent since last Friday.  Foreign nationals who were mid-flight when this was signed were met on the ground by Customs and Border Patrol who had only just learned of this order, and did not know what to do.  Many were sent back, and many green card holders were detained for hours.  Abroad, many foreign nationals were not allowed to board their flight, and many had their visas cancelled.   Even worse, the American Immigration Lawyers Association has been receiving reports that green card holders caught abroad in pre-flight inspections are being pressured to sign a form that relinquishes their green card holder status.

The best that foreign nationals from one of these countries can do is to avoid traveling outside the U.S., and stay informed as to how this ban is being carried out across airports across the U.S.  The lawyers at Seaport Law Group have advised foreign nationals during challenging times for immigrants in the past, and are available to advise you.

Immigration Under Trump / by Michelle Gee