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Update Regarding the January 27th Executive Order on Immigration

In light of the January 27, 2017 Executive Order ("EO") titled "Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States," which is summarized in prior Clark Hill Immigration Updates, we are providing this update regarding additional developments that have occurred this past week and weekend.

Visa Processing and Revocation

Late on Friday, February 3, 2017 the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington issued a temporary restraining order ("TRO" or "injunction") to allow ALL nationals traveling on passports from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Sudan, and Yemen (the "designated countries") to again be allowed to come to the U.S. if they have a valid visa. This includes immigrant visas, which are for "green card holders," as well as nonimmigrant visas (short term visas). This is the broadest court ruling to date regarding the EO. Additionally, airlines are again allowing persons from designated countries with a valid U.S. visa to board planes to the U.S.

On February 4, 2017, the U.S. Department of Justice filed an emergency request to immediately lift the injunction, which the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit denied. It is unclear how long the injunction will last or which party will ultimately be successful because this and many other cases around the United States remain pending. 

The U.S. Department of State has confirmed on its website that as a result of the injunction, visas "provisionally revoked" by the EO are automatically reinstated, "and those visas are now valid for travel to the United States, if the holder is otherwise eligible." However, "[i]ndividuals whose visas are expired, or were physically cancelled, must apply for a new visa at a U.S. embassy or consulate, absent a Customs and Border [Protection] ("CBP") decision to grant parole or waive the visa requirement at the port of entry."

The webpage further confirms that the National Visa Center or U.S. Embassy "will contact those affected to reschedule interview appointments" for all pending green card applications for persons from the designated countries, which had been put on hold.

USCIS Processing

Late last week, and before the injunction mentioned above was issued, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services ("USCIS") confirmed in a memo that it WILL continue to process all applications for benefits. USCIS will issue specific guidance for Refugee or Asylee Relative Petitions for beneficiaries outside the United States.

Travel Advisory

Clark Hill continues to advise citizens or nationals of designated countries who hold temporary nonimmigrant visas, and who are not also citizens of a non-designated country, to avoid all international travel to the extent possible. We advise each individual to consider their travel plans based on the current U.S. diplomatic relationship with their country. We will provide additional information as soon as it becomes available.   

For more information, please contact James E. Morrison at (202) 572-8670 | jmorrison@clarkhill.com, Michael P. Nowlan at (313) 965-8666 | mnowlan@clarkhill.com, Thomas K. Ragland at (202) 552-2360 | tragland@clarkhill.com, Patrick Taurel at (202) 772-0903 | ptaurel@clarkhill.com, or another member of Clark Hill's Immigration Practice.