As we reported in our most recent BLOG post, President Trump signed 3 immigration-related Executive Orders during his first week of office. The last few days have been a whirlwind of information and misinformation. The landscape also seems to changing on an almost-daily basis.
Here is our most recent round-up of positions and clarifications of the US State Department, US Department of Homeland Security, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
US STATE DEPARTMENT MATTERS:
– The DOS Visa Office confirmed that despite the executive order, the majority of interview-waives cases can still proceed. These include those applicants under age 14 and over age 79 (INA section 222(h)(1)(A)) and those applicants who seek the same visa category within one year of the most-recent visa’s issuance and/ or expiration (INA section 222(h)(1)(B)).
– The DOS Bureau of Consular Affairs confirmed provisional revocation of all valid immigrant and nonimmigrant visas held by nationals of the seven named countries. Regarding the issue of immigrant visas, this applies to those cases in which the visas have been issued, but the holder has not yet entered the US and effected the visa (which then converts the person into a greencard holder).
– The Department of State has posted on its website that all nonimmigrant visa appointments for applicants from the seven named countries have been cancelled, and no new appointments will be made until further notice.
US DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY:
– DHS has indicated that if an applicant for US admission holds dual citizenship from one of the seven named countries, and another country such as Canada or the UK, the person will not be permitted to enter the United States, even if he or she is using the passport of the non-named country. There are reports that this “ban” is not consistent, and that individuals may be admitted on the non-banned passport depending upon how they present at the port of entry.
– DHS has confirmed that Lawful Permanent Residents (greencard holders) should be permitted to enter the United States. However, reports indicate that this is being done on a case-by-case basis, and only after significant questioning and investigation. In some cases, individuals are being asked to open their social medial accounts and cell phones to prove “loyalty” matters. In other cases, applicants are being forcefully asked to sign I-407 forms to relinquish their greencards.
– Those individuals from the named seven countries who present with valid nonimmigrant visas are being asked to withdraw their applications for admission. If they refuse, they are being placed into expedited removal proceedings.
– We have received anecdotal information that DHS may suspend interior adjudication of all I-based forms for anyone from the named seven countries. DHS has not officially confirmed this information.
IMMIGRATION AND CUSTOMS ENFORCEMENT:
– There are solid reports that all requests for Administrative Closure and Prosecutorial Discretion are being denied, effectively immediately. Under the Obama administration, many pending removal cases were either closed or deferred under a shift of enforcement policies. It appears that this practice is now over, and all removal cases are proceeding without delay.
– We are receiving reports that individuals doing routine check-ins are now being taken into custody. We expect that this trend will continue.
As you can see, the scene is fluid and likely to continue to shift based on litigation and individual adjudications. We urge all of our clients to call our office before ANY planned travel, and to carefully consider whether travel can wait. And as always, know your rights – ask to speak with an attorney to determine whether your case can be heard before an immigration judge. The attorneys of Milner and Markee LLP will continue to update as we hear more.