President’s Second Travel Ban Not Effective

March 29, 2017 § Leave a comment

Originally scheduled to go into effect on March 16, 2017, President Trump’s further attempt to enforce his second Executive Order issued on March 6, 2017 has been halted by the issuance of two temporary restraining orders from the U.S. District Courts in Hawaii and Maryland.  If allowed to go into effect, the order would have temporarily banned Muslims and refugees from travel and admission to the United States.  The second iteration included revisions in response to the litigation that followed President’s Trump’s first Executive Order issued on January 27, 2017, however the district court judge in Hawaii found that despite these changes the language of the Executive Order was unacceptable due to both its discriminatory impact and “the significant and unrebutted evidence of religious animus” underlying the ban. Read the court’s decision here.

 

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H-1B Premium Processing Program Suspended

March 11, 2017 § Leave a comment

USCIS has announced earlier this month that it will halt its premium processing service for H-1B applications, starting on April 3, 2017.  The suspension could last up to six months while USCIS catches up on its caseload.  Applications turned in on or after April 3 with a request to premium process will be rejected.  Read the text of this USCIS announcement.

Premium processing is an extra service that allows a case to be processed within 15 calendar days from its receipt for an additional $1,225 filing fee. Paying for this extra service generally reduces the wait time for a decision but does not guaranty an approval.

Travel Ban Will Be Back in Effect Per 3/6/17 Executive Order

March 9, 2017 § 1 Comment

On March 6, 2017 President Trump signed another Executive Order that will reactivate a 90-day travel ban on foreign nationals from the following six countries: Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen.  Iraq is no longer on this list.  The ban will go back into effect on March 16, 2017.  The scope of the updated travel ban is now limited to foreign nationals from these six countries who: (i) are outside the United States on the effective date of this order; (ii) did not have a valid visa at 5:00 p.m., eastern standard time on January 27, 2017; and (iii) do not have a valid visa on the effective date of this order.

The Executive Order sets aside several exceptions to the ban and expressly allows for entry foreign nationals who are U.S. permanent residents, refugees or asylees, hold U.S. visas or a travel document like advance parole, have dual nationalities and hold a passport from another country not on the list, and foreign nationals and diplomats.  Additionally, the revised Executive Order allows for consular and CBP officers to decide, on a case-by-case basis, when to waive the travel ban for individuals in the following situations:

(i) the foreign national has previously been admitted to the United States for a continuous period of work, study, or other long-term activity, is outside the United States on the effective date of this order, seeks to reenter the United States to resume that activity, and the denial of reentry during the suspension period would impair that activity;

(ii) the foreign national has previously established significant contacts with the United States but is outside the United States on the effective date of this order for work, study, or other lawful activity;

(iii) the foreign national seeks to enter the United States for significant business or professional obligations and the denial of entry during the suspension period would impair those obligations;

(iv) the foreign national seeks to enter the United States to visit or reside with a close family member (e.g., a spouse, child, or parent) who is a United States citizen, lawful permanent resident, or alien lawfully admitted on a valid nonimmigrant visa, and the denial of entry during the suspension period would cause undue hardship;

(v)the foreign national is an infant, a young child or adoptee, an individual needing urgent medical care, or someone whose entry is otherwise justified by the special circumstances of the case;

(vi) the foreign national has been employed by, or on behalf of, the United States Government (or is an eligible dependent of such an employee) and the employee can document that he or she has provided faithful and valuable service to the United States Government;

(vii) the foreign national is traveling for purposes related to an international organization designated under the International Organizations Immunities Act (IOIA), 22 U.S.C. 288 et seq., traveling for purposes of conducting meetings or business with the United States Government, or traveling to conduct business on behalf of an international organization not designated under the IOIA;

(viii) the foreign national is a landed Canadian immigrant who applies for a visa at a location within Canada; or

(ix) the foreign national is traveling as a United States Government-sponsored exchange visitor.

The President noted in his Executive Order that Iraq is now no longer on the travel ban list due to its special status as a result of years of cooperation with the U.S. government in fighting and helping to eradicate terrorism and the Iraqi government’s many efforts “to enhance travel documentation, information sharing, and the return of Iraqi nationals subject to final orders of removal” ever since the 1/27/17 Executive Order that first put it on the list as one of the banned countries.  Nevertheless, the President cautioned that any visa issuance to Iraqi nationals or admission of Iraqi nationals shall be subject to special scrutiny to see if there are any connections to terrorism.

Finally the President has put back in place the 120 day entry ban on refugees, effective as of March 16, 2017.  The 50,000 cap on refugee admission for 2017 (as opposed to the annual allotment of 100,000 under the previous administration) is also back in effect.

Travel Ban Enjoined

February 12, 2017 § Leave a comment

The controversial Executive Order that had banned travelers from the seven predominantly Muslim countries (Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen) as well as admission of refugees, including those from Syria, has continued to be enjoined by a federal court decision on February 5, 2017. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Executive Branch did not have unfettered control in the area of immigration, and the judiciary retained discretion to review political actions such as the Executive Order at issue.

A few days after the issuance of the January 27 Executive Order, the State of Washington sued the President and the U.S. Government for several Constitutional law violations, including Due Process and the First Amendment. The State of Minnesota later joined as a plaintiff.  The States challenged the enforcement of the Executive Order and requested for a Federal District Court in Seattle to issue a temporary restraining order (TRO) to block the Executive Order from continuing to be enforced. Judge James Robart granted the TRO on Friday, February 3, 2017. The Government promptly appealed this decision, and the judges on appeal in the 9th Circuit have unanimously ruled against lifting the TRO.  As such, the travel ban and as well as the ban on refugee admission, including the indefinite ban of Syrians, cannot be enforced.

For a more detailed media coverage on these recent developments, read these Seattle Times and the New York Times articles.

President Trump and his administration face mounting criticisms in light of these events.  The President has continued to voice his disapproval of the legal decisions that have blocked key portions of his Executive Order and vows to keep fighting.

Trump’s Executive Orders

January 28, 2017 § 1 Comment

Within his first week in office, President Trump has signed three executive orders that will immediately have a heavy impact on U.S. immigration law.  The following provisions are among the most controversial:

  • Significantly expand upon the enforcement authority of immigration officials to seek out, fine, detain and remove undocumented individuals;
  • Construction of the southern wall along the U.S.- Mexico border;
  • Institute 30-day suspension of the issuance of nonimmigrant and immigrant visas for nationals from certain countries.  As of the evening of January 27, 2017, these countries are Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen, with the possibility of more countries being added to this list;
  • Institute 90-day suspension the entry of immigrants and nonimmigrants of nationals from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen, with the possibility of more countries being added to this list;
  • Institute 120-day suspension of the U.S.Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP), including an indefinite suspension of the entry of nationals of Syria;
  • Immediate suspension of the Visa Interview Waiver Program, thereby requiring all non-immigrant foreign nationals to go through a visa interview.

The consequences of these actions will be severe and wide-spread.  As immigration officials scramble to keep up with the implementation of these directives, foreign nationals who are stateside or are traveling abroad are urged to exercise the utmost caution and to either return to the U.S. as soon as possible or to cancel any immediate international travel plans.

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