Homeland Security DHS To Make Exceptions To Trump’s Ban On Refugees & Certain Travelers

The Department of Homeland Security is planning to make exceptions to President Donald Trump’s executive order on refugees and certain foreign nationals, including by allowing 872 refugees into the U.S. this week. Legal permanent residents, dual nationals and Iraqis who worked for the U.S. government will be exempt from the ban on travelers from certain countries, officials said. They made the announcement on Tuesday, following a period of confusion over the executive order that began when Trump signed it on Friday.

Secretary John Kelly announced on Sunday that waivers would be provided on a case-by-case basis to legal permanent residents, or green card holders.  On Tuesday, he and other DHS officials announced additional exceptions to the order. Iraqi nationals will now be eligible for entry using Special Immigrant Visas, which are granted to people who worked for or on behalf of the U.S. government in Iraq, officials said.

DHS officials also said that dual nationals with visas and passports from a non-restricted country are eligible to apply for entry into the U.S., such as someone with citizenship from Iran and the United Kingdom.

Even after the changes, millions of people from the seven affected countries, along with all refugees not scheduled to enter the U.S. this week, are subject to the ban.

Travel Ban per 1/27/2017 Executive Order

  • The Executive Order applies to all individuals “from” the 7 designated countries: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. That includes Legal Permanent Residents (LPRs), nonimmigrant visa holders, immigrant visa holders, refugees, derivative asylees, Special Immigrant Visas (SIVs), etc.
  • Anyone who holds a passport from a designated country is considered as being “from” the designated country. This includes dual citizens who hold passports from a designated country, as well as a non-designated country.
  • CBP will be processing people based on how they present themselves at primary inspection.
  • The Executive Order does not apply to people who merely traveled to designated countries. However, travel to these countries may by risky.
  • Legal Permanent Residents: There appears to be some limited discretion for DHS to admit LPRs on a case-by-case basis, and following a thorough security review. LPRs will be allowed to board planes. Their cases will be adjudicated at the port of entry. We are hearing that some permanent residents are being asked to sign Form I-407 relinquishing their permanent resident status. Do not sign Form I-407.  Ask to contact your attorney.
  • Nonimmigrants: Nonimmigrants will be allowed to withdraw their application for admission. Expedited removal will generally only be used for those individuals who do not wish to withdraw their application for admission.

Please note that the situation is fluid, and may change at any time.

A Look at the New Executive Order

Executive Order signed today which includes the following provisions:

  • Refugee Admissions: Suspends the Refugee Admissions Program for 120 days. Reduce refugee admissions for FY2017 to 50,000 from President Obama’s goal of 110,000. Notwithstanding the temporary suspension, refugees may be admitted on a case-by-case basis if certain criteria are met.
  • Ban on Entry to U.S. for Certain Countries: Suspends visa issuance and other immigration benefits to nationals of countries of particular concern, including Iraq and Syria.
  • Biometric Entry-Exit System: Directs agencies to expedite completion of biometric entry-exit system.
  • Suspends the Visa Interview Waiver Program: All visa applicants will be required to attend an interview unless not required by statute.

Oppenheim’s Analysis of Current Trends for Various Immigrant Preference Categories

Charles (“Charlie”) Oppenheim, Chief of the Visa Control and Reporting Division, U.S. Department of State, provides his analysis of current trends and future projections for the various immigrant preference categories now that the February 2017 Visa Bulletin has been issued.  Some highlights:

EB-1. Demand in this category remains strong and a cut-off date for EB-1 India and EB-1 China will need to be imposed later this fiscal year. Charlie will hold off doing so for as long as possible, but is confident that it will happen. When it does, members should not expect the date to retrogress quite as far back as last fiscal year when the date rolled back to 2010. Charlie continues to expect that the imposition of a Final Action cut-off date in these categories will be relatively short-lived and that EB-1 China and India will return to “Current” in October when the FY 2018 numbers become available.

EB-2. Tremendous demand resulting from EB-3 upgrades means EB-2 India will not advance in February and will likely hold at the current Final Action cut-off date of April 15, 2008 in March. If demand for EB-2 Worldwide remains strong, it is unlikely that EB-2 India will be able to benefit from any unused numbers and may be restricted to its 2,800 per country limit. If the trend in demand continues, EB-2 India is unlikely to recover to last year’s date. Members should not expect any significant movement in this category until at least July or August. Charlie continues to monitor this very closely. If the current surge in demand is not sustained, and Worldwide demand, or India demand with early priority dates subsides, more forward movement than what is currently projected may be possible.

Unlike EB-2 India, EB-2 China did advance somewhat to November 15, 2012 since demand in this category is not currently exceeding the monthly target.

EB-3. EB-3 Worldwide demand has subsided. The decrease in demand that allowed Charlie to advance the Final Action cut-off date earlier this fiscal year continues, and allowed him to advance the date again to October 1, 2016. While this trend may continue, due to current USCIS processing times, additional forward movements after March are unlikely to impact number usage in this category this fiscal year.

EB-3 China downgrades have not yet materialized at the level which had been experienced in past years. Nevertheless, Charlie is not advancing the Final Action date in this category significantly in an effort to avoid retrogression if demand from downgrades materializes in the coming months as expected.

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