Here’s the latest breakdown of Trump’s Travel Ban.
On January 27, 2017, President Trump signed an executive order stating that citizens of Iran, Iraq, Syria, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen and Libya would be banned from entering the United States. The order did not differentiate between visa holders, people with green cards or even dual citizens.
People onboard flights to the United States when the order went into effect were held at airports pursuant to the order, which was issued with no advance notice and without any review by White House Legal Counsel. Attorneys rushed to airports to help those who were detained as a result, and protestors joined to demonstrate their disagreement with the order.
Nationwide injunctions have been issued by several courts since the order went into effect, beginning with a stay of enforcement of the so called “Travel Ban” by a New York District Court on January 28th. On February 9th, a three-judge panel for the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the stay.
Why was the Order Frozen by the 9th Circuit?
President Obama’s administration was responsible for putting these seven countries (Syria, Iran, Iraq, Yemen, Sudan, Libya and Somalia) on a list via the Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015. So Trump’s order is just a continuation of that policy, right?
No, it’s not. Trump’s order is much broader and stops many more people from coming to the U.S. The Obama administration only stopped nationals of these countries and people who had traveled to these countries from using the Visa Waiver Program (VWP).
The Visa Waiver Program (VWP)
The VWP is a privilege that the U.S. extends to nationals of designated countries; it allows them to travel to the United States for tourism or business for 90 days or less without obtaining a visa. Typically, temporary visitors to the United States need to apply for a visitor visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate. People applying for visitor visas have to go to an appointment at an Embassy or Consulate, and the officer interviewing them has broad discretion to deny the visa.
The VWP waives the visa application requirement, allowing eligible travelers to apply for authorization through the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) online portal instead. There is no face-to-face interview involved.
The Difference Between Administration Orders
Although the Obama administration stopped nationals of the 7 countries and those who had traveled to these countries from using the VWP, they were still able to apply for visitor visas using the regular visa application process at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate.
Trump’s order, on the other hand, not only prevented nationals of the listed countries from obtaining a visa of any kind, but also prevented those who already held valid visas and travel documents, such as a green card, from entering the U.S.
I was talking to a friend about a story of an Iranian family that was prevented from boarding their flight from Europe despite holding valid visas. She admitted that she did not know the difference between a visa and a green card and asked me to explain the concepts involved in the admission of a foreign national.
What is a Passport?
A passport is an identity document that establishes your citizenship or nationality and allows you to return to the country of issuance, but does not guarantee entry to any country other than the country of issuance. To be admitted to a country that you are not a national of, a visa is usually required.
Our office operates under the view that it is better to be informed and prepared for any issues that may arise than to be surprised when they come up. With all this in mind, we strongly encourage foreign nationals to read our Know Before You Go! guide before traveling abroad. Click here to download:
What is a Visa?
A visa is a document that is stamped onto one of the pages of your passport. It allows its holder to board a plane and land at a port of entry (such as an airport, seaport or land border) and ask to be allowed in to the visa issuance country.
Depending on the country that issued your passport, your destination, and your purpose of travel, you may be allowed in without a visa (as is the case for U.S. Citizen travel to Canada and Mexico). Visas range from temporary (non-immigrant) visas to immigrant visas, each with their own set of eligibility requirements and restrictions (single/multiple entry, validity period, admission period, permitted activities, etc.) and can be revoked.
Following Trump’s order, the U.S. Department of State issued a notice that it was revoking all visas issued to nationals of the 7 countries (though subsequently issued another notice on the reinstatement of those visas when the travel ban was blocked.) This caused significant disruption not only to the nationals of these countries but also their family, employers, clients, colleagues, and schools in the U.S.
What is a Green Card?
A green card (also known as a permanent resident card) is a card issued to foreign nationals who have been authorized to live and work in the U.S. long-term. The green card serves as proof of their status and also serves as a travel document that enables them to return to the U.S. after an absence of less than one year.
A green card holder may lose their resident status if DHS determines that they have abandoned their U.S. residence. A green card holder may also be deported or refused re-entry under certain circumstances, such as the engagement in certain criminal behavior or making a false claim to U.S. citizenship.
However, absent such circumstances, the green card bestows its holders the right to reside in and be protected by the laws of the United States. By detaining and turning back green card holders from the 7 countries, Trump’s order was a violation of these rights.
Current Status of the Travel Ban
As of February 14, 2017, the travel ban is currently under a complete suspension by unanimous decision of a three-judge panel for the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. However, this decision only stands pending development of the case. President Trump and the Justice Department have several options at this point.
First, they can appeal to the Supreme Court, where currently only eight (8) Justices sit. If the Justices were to decide 4 in favor of the ban being constitutional and 4 against, the decision by the 9th Circuit would stand.
Second, the Trump administration can seek immediate relief by requesting an en banc hearing by the 9th Circuit. An en banc hearing would consist of a hearing in front of eleven (11) randomly selected Justices of the 9th Circuit instead of a three-judge panel that upheld the stay.
Third, Trump could simply decide to let the case against the travel ban proceed at the (lower) District Court level, where the Government could further develop the record by providing more evidence that would justify the travel ban.
Our office operates under the view that it is better to be informed and prepared for any issues that may arise than to be surprised when they come up. We also know from experience that it’s much less expensive and stressful to be informed and prepared than to have to deal with unexpected deportation proceedings, the income lost while a person is detained, and attorneys’ fees. With all this in mind, we strongly encourage foreign nationals to read our Know Before You Go! guide before traveling abroad.
Click here to download our free guide:
Let us know if you have questions or concerns about your immigration status and would like to set up a consultation by clicking here: