Recent Executive Orders – Report to Clients: Be Prepared

Recent Executive Orders - Report to Clients: Be Prepared by Jeff Margolis

On January 27, 2017, President Trump signed the Executive Order titled “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States.” The following is an explanation of the executive order and how it may affect you, your employees, or your family. This report attempts to explain who is affected by the banthe effects on travelling outside the US based on advance parole, and the steps you can take to secure your status in the United States. 

Executive Order – Temporary Travel Ban

First and foremost, if you, your employees, or your family members are stranded in Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Sudan, or Yemen (with a valid visa or permanent resident card), we ask that you contact us immediately. If there are plans to travel to the following countries on a valid US visa and you are a citizen of those countries, we strongly advise against this, as there are no hints that the travel ban will be lifted within the next 90 days. In addition, there is a possibility that these bans could be extended in length and in scope.

Furthermore, we are working diligently to analyze the current situation with visa holders from other countries exempt from the ban. Although rumors continue to develop, and direct information from federal courts, the Department of Homeland Security and the White House has been limited and contradictory, we strongly suggest that everyone remain at ease during this time. New developments continue to occur every few hours. Please do keep in touch with us if you believe you will be directly affected by this executive order. 

If you are an employer, please ensure that your employees know the risks that come with travelling to the United States if they are “from” the countries mentioned in the executive order, especially if their visa extensions are pending or about to expire. Reassure them that, as of this moment, only those trying to enter the US with passports (or eligibility to obtain a passport) from countries in the temporary travel ban are directly affected. Everyone else should not experience any inconvenience or impediment to enter the United States.

Although the government has yet to define what being “from” these seven countries means, we will take a conservative approach and conclude the following until further notice:

  • If you once had citizenship from any of these countries and are not a US citizen or a permanent resident, you may be considered as being “from” these countries.
  • If you ever held a passport from these countries and are not a US citizen or a permanent resident, you may be considered as being “from” these countries.
  • If you have had ties to these countries, by birthright or naturalization, and are not a US citizen or a permanent resident, you may be considered as being “from” these countries.

If you believe you may fall under the categorization of being “from” these areas, please contact us so that we may go through your case together.

The most recent and pertinent information regarding the travel ban is as follows, a statement from Secretary John Kelly:

“Accordingly, absent the receipt of significant derogatory information indicating a serious threat to public safety and welfare, lawful permanent resident status will be a dispositive factor in our case-by-case determinations.”

Thus, all lawful permanent residents should be allowed into the country. If the lawful permanent resident is a citizen of any of the affected countries, they should be allowed entry into the US (as long as there is no significant reason to bar them entry). What this “significant derogatory information” means has yet to be defined in explicit terms and might be subject to the opinion of an immigration officer on a case-by-case basis. As a result, if a green card holder is a citizen of the affected countries, we strongly urge that travel plans involving leaving the United States be limited and carefully planned out.

There have been unofficial statements from individuals in top government positions stating that any foreign national with dual-citizenship from a Trump-approved country, and one of those in the ban list, would still be allowed into the US. These have yet to be confirmed by an official government statement but are still noteworthy, as individuals in such situations are being allowed entry into the US.

Travel on Advance Parole

In the case that you have advance parole (a “travel card”) and you plan to travel outside of the US while you await a decision on your adjustment of status, you may still travel outside of the country and re-enter without a problem. However, based on the rapid action being taken by the government, we do advise that any travel plans reliant on the travel card be limited and carefully planned, regardless of destination.

Although the situation lacks any formal clarity, a travel card holder can still be denied re-entry into the United States if the government sees fit. Thus, please consider whether the travel card holder’s travel plans can wait until more information is released by the government. As noted above, if you believe you may be considered as being “from” the affected countries, please avoid travelling outside of the US.

Moreover, considering the lack of communication from and between the White House and the Department of Homeland Security (including the Customs and Border Protection), the safest action to take is to remain in the United States and avoid any international travel while on advance parole, especially if you are out of status. Although we do not foresee any tangible problems, as information streams in we want to ensure that you face no consequences at inspection before we advise you to resume regular travel plans.

Current Non-Immigrant Visa Holders

For those on a visa, if there is a clear path to permanent residency, now is the time to consider applying for a green card for more security and ease in travel permissions. Although the extent to which a green card can protect an immigrant is being tested by the executive orders and the Department of Homeland Security, this is the best option available to those with a non-immigrant visa.

Permanent Residency to Citizenship/Naturalization

For those who are currently permanent residents and eligible for citizenship, now is the time to consider solidifying your status in this country. The following is a list of situations that may make you eligible for citizenship:

  • If you are at least 18 years old and have been a permanent resident for 5 years (without leaving the US for trips of 6 months or longer); OR
  • If you are at least 18 years old, have been a permanent resident for 3 years, and are currently married to a US citizen with whom you have lived for the past 3 years.

Conclusions

As news continues to pour in, and uncertainty seems to cast its shadow, giving in to the fears that come with it is not the best course of action. Rumors will spread about raids, detentions, and deportations as the public grows weary about the current state of affairs. Remain calm; be vigilant:

  1.  If you are stranded at an airport or outside of the US and are a valid US visa holder with a passport from one of the seven countries, contact us immediately and we will direct you to the appropriate channel.
  2. Avoid any situation that may place you in direct contact with law enforcement officials to avoid any negative impact on your status or future status.
  3. Any travel outside of the US should be made only if necessary or not at all, especially if one is on advance parole and out of status.
  4. Consider securing a more solidified immigrant status in the US by applying for permanent residence.
  5. Apply for citizenship if you meet the requirements.

In the meantime, The Margolis Law Firm will be here, standing with you, ready to take any necessary action to protect your immigration matters. We will remain vigilant on our end, keeping current on all immigration developments. 

Jeffrey A. Margolis, Principal

11 East 44th Street (between Fifth Avenue and Madison Avenue)
Suite 1505
New York, New York 10017
Phone: (212) 490-0900
Fax: (212) 490-0700
mail@margolislawfirm.com

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