There are a lot of questions and not a lot of answers to the Executive Order issued on Friday, January 27th. What follows is not meant to be legal advice. I strongly encourage you to consult with a qualified immigration attorney if you have a specific issue you’d like to address.
- All processing of so-called “I Forms” – green cards (I-485), work cards (I-765), advance parole (I-131), etc. have ceased if you are a citizen of Syria, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Iran, Iraq, or Yemen. Interviews will still be conducted, but no final decision will be made. Naturalization cases are likewise on hold, but it’s not yet clear if people in line for an oath ceremony (those approved prior to the ban), will be allowed to take the oath of citizenship.
- The refugee ban is in full effect. If you are a refugee from any country, you will be denied entry to the US for 120 days. If you are a refugee from Syria, your anticipated date of entry is entirely unknown.
- Born in Syria, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Iran, Iraq, Yemen? DO NOT TRAVEL outside of the United States because you may not be allowed in. Citizens of these countries are being denied entry to the US, despite having a valid visa.
- If you are a lawful permanent resident (LPR) from one of the seven countries above, you will face increased security checks – perhaps six hours long – before you are allowed to re-enter the United States. There is no specific bar in place here, but gaining admission to the US, even with a green card, will be much more difficult than it was a week ago.
- If you are a dual national of one the seven banned countries (for example, Canadian-Iraqi or British-Somalian), you may not be allowed into the United States even if you are an LPR, even if you travel on the other passport. Word came out late today that dual national Canadians and Brits should be okay to re-enter the US – but they should use their “non-banned” passports. Even if you’re a US citizen who has a passport from one of the banned countries – you may face increased security measures and you may not be allowed into the United States.
- If you are undocumented carry proof on you at all times to show that you’ve been in the US for at least two years. If you are apprehended by ICE and cannot demonstrate your two years of residency in the US, you may face a process called “expedited removal” where you don’t see a judge and are simply ordered removed without a trial, without an attorney, without a chance to present your case.
Immigration attorneys knew that things would be bad for our clients under President Trump. What we didn’t know was how bad it was going to actually be. I previewed the refugee ban last week, but the Executive Order that came out on January 27th was beyond the pale.
My general advice is not to leave the US – regardless of your status or your country of citizenship.
There may be a time in later days to talk about the bold and brave actions of attorneys around the country, of former acting Attorney General Sally Yates who was fired for not enforcing the ban, of the thousands of protesters who showed up to airports to support the stranded. But today is not a day to pause and reflect. Today is a day to try and make sense of an increasingly senseless world.
We’ll let you know when we hear more.