Trump’s Revised Immigration Ban Exempts Iraq

Employers with foreign nationals from six countries should review travel plans

Roy Maurer By Roy Maurer March 7, 2017
Trump’s Revised Immigration Ban Exempts Iraq

Employers will need to exercise caution and defer travel by foreign national employees from the six countries listed in President Donald Trump's revised executive order.

Immigration and travel is banned from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen for 90 days, beginning March 16.

The order is a modified version of a previous order issued Jan. 27—currently blocked by a federal court—that banned immigration and travel from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

Iraq has been removed from the list, reportedly for diplomatic reasons.

Additional changes made to the original order address legal questions raised by federal courts and include explicitly specifying that the restrictions do not apply to visa holders, legal permanent residents and dual citizens.

"Employers will need to carefully consider the international travel of foreign national employees who are nationals of one of the six countries," said Jeffrey Bell, an immigration attorney and shareholder in the Kansas City, Mo., office of law firm Polsinelli. "Many employers have employees working in lawful immigration status, but with expired travel visas. These individuals will not be in a position to renew their visas when traveling abroad and would be barred from returning to the U.S. Also, newly hired employees from the six countries who are not presently in the U.S. or without a current U.S. travel visa will be delayed in traveling to the U.S. and starting employment."

[SHRM members-only toolkit: Obtaining U.S. Employment Visas]

Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary John Kelly said the order is meant to address "long-overdue concerns about the security of our immigration system." He added that the DHS intends to "undertake a rigorous review of our visa and refugee vetting programs" with the affected countries during the temporary suspension of immigration and travel.

Implementation will be phased in over the next two weeks, according to DHS officials.

The DHS and the Department of State will still have discretionary authority, on a case-by-case basis, to issue visas and allow foreign nationals of the six affected countries to enter the United States.

The executive order also calls for establishing enhanced screening procedures for visa issuance and once again suspends the Visa Interview Waiver Program, requiring that nearly all individuals seeking a temporary visa undergo an in-person interview.

"At this point we do not know the scope or process of enhanced vetting protocols, but it is likely that this additional screening will cause delays in visa issuance at U.S. consulates, as well as delays in the processing of immigration benefits applications made in the U.S.," Bell said.

He recommended that employers notify employees from the six countries who have valid visas about possible delays at the border and notify all foreign national employees abroad about possible delays in renewing visas while traveling outside the U.S.

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