UPDATE to the post below - Effective February 3, 2017 the Executive Order affecting travel is on hold due to a temporary restraining order.
A lot has happened in the past week. An Executive Order was signed that restricted visas and travel for a number of immigrants, various U.S. agencies issued statements and interpretations of that order, several lawsuits were filed and injunctions issued, and today we have implementation of the order that is quite different from the original - with continued changes expected. And on top of all that, the rumor mill is going full speed with what we might expect next.
So let's stop, take a moment, and see what we actually have right now.
- The Executive Order no longer applies to U.S. lawful permanent residents.
- The Executive Order no longer applies to dual nationals who are using a passport from a country that is *not* on the list of restricted countries.
- Landed immigrants of Canada (not including refugees) who hold a passport from one of the restricted countries, who have a valid U.S. immigrant or nonimmigrant visa, and whose travel originates in Canada and is through a land border or Preclearance location, may travel to the United States.
- There are *no* current plans to expand the travel ban beyond the listed countries. The Department of State has specifically asked that we help stop these rumors!
- For individuals who are from one of the listed countries, and who would use a passport or travel document from one of those countries when traveling (Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen), it is recommended that you remain in the U.S. if you are here already and *not* leave the country.
- A court order effective in Massachusetts until February 5 temporarily lifts the travel ban, effectively applying to flights to Boston only. At least one airline, Lufthansa, is permitting individuals to board flights to Boston during this period: http://www.lufthansa.com/us/en/Travel-information.
- Refugee admissions remain on hold, although it is possible that some of the court injunctions could open them back up. We are watching to see how this is handled.
- The ability of certain visa applicants to apply without attending an in-person interview still stands in many cases (those established by statute) - the Executive Order simply restricted the occasions when this can occur. *NOTE* This applies only to individuals who are already required to apply for a visa to enter the U.S., allowing certain individuals such as those applying for an extension within a short time frame, those applying for certain diplomatic/official visas, or those of a certain age, to submit their application without appearing in person. It does *not* affect the Visa Waiver program that allows nationals of certain countries to travel to the U.S. as visitors up to 90 days without a visa (those individuals only have to register online through ESTA - they do not have to apply for a visa in the first instance) - the Visa Waiver program remains unchanged.
- Increased screening remains in place for all immigration benefits. Travelers and applicants can expect increased scrutiny and questioning. It is important to know your rights in such situations, which are outlined briefly here: http://www.aila.org/advo-media/tools/psas/knowledge-is-power-protect-your-rights.
- CBP and DOS are continually providing updated information at: https://www.cbp.gov/border-security/protecting-nation-foreign-terrorist-entry-united-states and https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/news/important-announcement.html.
We will continue to see and hear many more rumors in the coming days, weeks and months. I urge you to look to reliable and official sources to discern what is real, and welcome you to contact me with any questions.