Revised Executive Order on Protecting The Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into The United States

Tuesday, March 7, 2017 - 3:00pm

On March 6, 2017, President Trump signed a revised Executive Order that seeks to improve our national security and prevent terrorist or criminal infiltration by foreign nationals into the U.S.  This order effectively revokes the prior order and goes into effect on March 16, 2017.   

The order temporarily suspends travel for individuals from Iran, Syria, Somalia, Libya, Sudan, and Yemen for 90 days and will go into effect on March 16.  It is important to note that Iraq was taken off of the list of countries subject to this temporary travel ban. 

The order provides much more clarity than the prior order as to who is subject to the order’s travel restrictions.  Specifically, this order only applies to individuals who are outside the U.S. on March 16, 2017 and either did not have a valid visa as of January 27, 2017 (the date the original order was issued) or they do not possess a valid visa on March 16, 2017.  The order also provides specificity as to who it does not apply to. The provisions governing the temporary suspension of travel for individuals from the six aforementioned countries do not apply to the following:

  • any lawful permanent resident of the United States;
  • any foreign national who is admitted to or paroled into the United States on or after the effective date of this order;
  • any foreign national who has a valid document other than a visa (such as an advance parole document) that permits him or her to travel to the United States and seek entry or admission;
  • any dual national of a country designated under section 2 of this order when the individual is traveling on a passport issued by a non-designated country;
  • any foreign national traveling on a diplomatic or diplomatic-type visa; or
  • any foreign national who has been granted asylum; any refugee who has already been admitted to the United States; or any individual who has been granted withholding of removal, advance parole, or protection under the Convention Against Torture.

Furthermore, the order lays out the following circumstances where the granting of a waiver to an individual subject to the travel suspension may be proper:

  • 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;
  • 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;
  • 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;
  • 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;
  • 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;
  • 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;
  • the foreign national is traveling for purposes related to an international organization designated under the International Organizations Immunities Act, 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;
  • the foreign national is a landed Canadian immigrant who applies for a visa at a location within Canada; or
  • the foreign national is traveling as a United States Government-sponsored exchange visitor.

The order also made significant changes to the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program.  The cap for refugee admissions for the current fiscal year remains unchanged from the initial order at 50,000 and the temporary ban on refugee admissions will still last for 120 days starting on March 16, but the order no longer contains the language prioritizing individuals who claim that they are religious minorities in their home country.  In addition, the indefinite suspension on refugee admissions from Syria was taken out of the revised order, and the language governing the ability for individual applicants for refugee status to obtain waivers is more specific.

The revised order still contains the suggestion that the State Department and the Department of Homeland Security rescind exercising certain waiver authority relating to certain terrorism grounds of inadmissibility, but this order provides further specificity with regard to the provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act that the President wanted to address in this order. As in the prior order, this new order calls for the immediate suspension of the Visa Interview Waiver Program, of which all countries are eligible, not just the six countries subject to the temporary travel ban.  However, the revised order states that certain statutory exceptions shall apply, thus limiting this provision’s impact to a certain extent.  The revised order also directs the State Department to review all visa validity reciprocity agreements and make certain adjustments to these agreements if other nations do not accord U.S. nationals with reciprocal treatment.  Lastly, this new order contains very similar language with regard to the expedited implementation of the biometric entry-exit tracking system; the one key distinction is that in the prior order, this system was to cover “all travelers” to the U.S., whereas the language contained in the new order only covers “in-scope travelers to the U.S.” 

For your convenience, we have attached some useful links to the revised Executive Order, a fact sheet for the revised order, and a Q&A document associated with the Executive Order.  We also have included a Washington Post article, a Wall Street Journal article, and a Wall Street Journal Op-Ed that discuss the new Executive Order.  If you have any other questions with regard to this order, please feel free to reach out to David Alim at dalim@uschamber.com