U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson sent four cables to consular officers between Mar. 10 and 17 with preliminary instructions for stricter vetting of U.S. visa applicants. The cables emphasize that “all visa decisions are national security decisions” and that additional screening may “may cause interview appointment backlogs to rise.” Continue reading “Client Alert: State Dep’t Begins Stricter Vetting of Visa Applicants”
The Electronic Frontier Foundation has put together a quick pocket guide with a breakdown of your digital rights at the U.S. border. Continue reading “Pocket Guide to Protecting Your Data at the U.S. Border”
President Trump has signed a revised Executive Order on “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States.” It goes into effect March 16.
The ban fails to address the original version’s flaws and its thinly veiled scapegoating of Muslims and refugees.
Among other things, the revised EO:
- Suspends the refugee program for 120 days though refugees already vetted and in transit could continue their journey to safety.
- Suspends immigrant and nonimmigrant entry for people from six predominantly Muslim countries (Iran, Iraq, Libya, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen) for a minimum of 90 days while the government undertakes a review.
- Requires in-person interviews for more nonimmigrant visa applicants.
These policies will do little to improve national security and will instead continue to undermine America’s position in the world as a beacon of liberty and a place of refuge. Across the nation, these policies will slow our economy, drive away scientists and researchers, and create fear in communities.
This ban is unjust despite being rewritten in an attempt to sidestep the wave of litigation that confronted the first ill-thought and xenophobic ban. Some of the changes from the prior version of the EO include:
- Iraq is not covered by the new entry ban.
- Permanent residents are not covered by the new entry ban.
- Persons seeking to enter the U.S. with advance parole are not covered by the new entry ban.
- Dual nationals of the 6 restricted countries are not covered by the entry ban when traveling on a passport issued by a non-restricted country.
- Removal of the prioritization of refugee claims from members of “persecuted religious minority groups,” which some interpreted as prioritizing Christian refugee claims.
An immigrant visa applicant sporting a tattoo may be questioned about it. The presence of tattoos (or evidence of their removal) is noted during the required medical exam. This may lead a consular officer to suspect the applicant has gang affiliations or has abused drugs. Continue reading “Got Tattoos? U.S. Visa Officers Want to Know”
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has published a Feb. 21, 2017, notice of its intent to collect Chinese travelers’ social media account information. There is a 60-day window for public comment. Tell CBP this is a bad idea. Continue reading “Tell CBP: Don’t Spy on Chinese Travelers’ Social Media”
Enforcement and interpretation of President Trump’s Executive Order (EO) on “Protecting the Nation from Terrorist Attacks by Foreign Nationals” are evolving rapidly, so check back here for updates.
2017-02-16: The Trump administration plans to unveil a revised EO on immigration next week and rescind the president’s initial travel ban, which has been entrenched in legal battles throughout the country, as reported in The Hill. President Trump said during a news conference on Thursday that he would unveil a more tailored travel ban “next week sometime.” The U.S. Department of Justice similarly informed the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, in the Washington v. Trump litigation: “Rather than continuing this litigation, the President intends in the near future to rescind the Order and replace it with a new, substantially revised Executive Order to eliminate what the panel erroneously thought were constitutional concerns.”
2017-02-09: The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has denied the government’s motion for stay of the district court’s temporary restraining order (TRO). Translation: The TRO suspending implementation of the EO remains in place. The government may appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. Continue reading “Trump’s Executive Order on “Protecting the Nation from Terrorist Attacks by Foreign Nationals”: Latest News and Summary”
The U.S. Embassy in Beijing announces:
Nonimmigrant visa services at the Embassy facility will be closed to the public from February 13 until February 24, 2017. Visa services will be available at the Ritan location during this period except February 17 when both facilities will be closed. Continue reading “Visas Services at Embassy Closed Feb. 13 to 24”
What do you need to do to preserve your status as a lawful permanent resident (LPR)? If you are abroad for 6 months or more per year, you risk “abandoning” your green card. This is especially true after multiple prolonged absences or after a prior warning by a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer at the airport.
Feb. 1, 2017 update: It’s not clear whether the drafters of Trump’s Executive Order on “Protecting the Nation from Terrorist Attacks by Foreign Nationals” overlooked the fact that the entry bar for nationals seven countries (Syria, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen) could impact hundreds of thousands of LPRs. The EO was issued without normal interagency review. During the first hours of enforcement of the EO, some LPRs were reportedly denied entry to the U.S. This led to federal court litigation and public outcry. See, for example, these stories in The Atlantic and National Review linking to our firm’s U.S. & China Visa Law Blog. On Jan. 29, DHS Secretary John Kelly and a DHS Fact Sheet awkwardly applied to LPRs the supposedly case-by-case “national interest” exception of the ban, saying that LPRs “traveling on a valid I-551 will be allowed to board U.S. bound aircraft and will be assessed for exceptions at arrival ports of entry, as appropriate. The entry of these individuals, subject to national security checks, is in the national interest.” On February 1, 2017, Donald F. McGahn II, Counsel to the President, wrote a memo to “clarify” that the entry ban does not apply to lawful permanent residents. This appears to be a face-saving measure that amends the EO without the embarrassment of actually having Trump sign the amendment. That’s a victory, but LPRs with ties to restricted countries should still be prepared for possibly prolonged and rigorous inspection of your person, luggage, electronic devices, and social media accounts focusing on, among other issues, whether LPR status has been abandoned, religious beliefs, and political views. Continue reading “Green Card Holders Staying Abroad Over 6 Months Risk Abandonment”
A leaked, unsigned copy of President Trump’s Executive Order on Protecting the Nation from Terrorist Attacks by Foreign Nationals. The order takes the following steps, among others: Continue reading “President Trump to Issue Executive Order on “Protecting the Nation from Terrorist Attacks by Foreign Nationals””
Executive Order: Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States (on whitehouse.gov)