Late in the evening of April 20, 2020, President Trump announced by Tweet that he…
Here are the latest updates on the Trump Administration’s Executive Order, often referred to as the Immigration Ban.
Further confirmation: all USCIS applications on hold for affected countries.
It now appears clear that USCIS will halt processing of all application file by citizens of the 7 banned countries. The following is a quote from an email from Daniel M. Renaud, associate director of field operations for USCIS, as reported by The Intercept.
Effectively [sic] immediately and until additional guidance is received, you may not take final action on any petition or application where the applicant is a citizen or national of Syria, Iraq, Iran, Somalia, Yemen, Sudan, and Libya. […]Field offices may interview applicants for adjustment of status and other benefits according to current processing guidance and may process petitions and applications for individuals from these countries up to the point where a decision would be made.
At that point, cases shall be placed on hold until further notice and will be shelved with specific NFTS codes which will be provided through the Regional Offices […] Offices are not permitted [to] make any final decision on affected cases to include approval, denial, withdrawal, or revocation.
Please look for additional guidance later this weekend on how to process naturalization applicants from one of the seven countries listed above who are currently scheduled for oath ceremony or whose N-400s have been approved and they are pending scheduling of oath ceremony […] We expect to issue more detailed guidance and procedures as needed in the coming days.”
According to the Intercept, the guidance email was sent Saturday morning.
If appears USCIS will be processing cases to the point of a decision, but not issuing a decision until permitted by the White House. The email leaves open the possibility that naturalization cases (N-400s) that have been approved may still be allowed to proceed to interview. And in fact, a CBP webpage seems to indicate that is the policy being adopted:
Does the Executive Order apply to those currently being adjudicated for naturalization?
No. USCIS will continue to adjudicate N-400 applications for naturalization and administer the oath of citizenship consistent with prior practices
The USCIS email might also suggest that USCIS could issue green cards in cases that have already been approved. Many are concerned that USCIS may refuse to issue green cards in cases that have been approved, but where the physical green card has not been issued.
The U.S. Consulate in the United Kingdom was the first to issue guidance for dual-citizens of that country. According to a policy released on the consulate’s website, dual citizens of the UK and one of the 7 banned countries will not be subject to the Immigration Ban Executive Order.
Other countries appear to be in the process of requesting similar rules for their dual national citizens. This may include such countries as Australia and Canada. We expect many more developments in that regard.
In fact, the guidance on this issue appears to be somewhat inconsistent. CBP states that – when individuals are screened at the border – they will be processed on the basis of the identification they provide. So if a Canadian-Syrian dual citizen shows his Canadian passport, he will be treated as a Canadian. But the Department of State has not adopted a similar policy, it appears.
CBP issues FAQ sheet on Executive Order.
Customs and Border Protection has issued an FAQ sheet addressing implementation of the Immigration Ban. CBP reported the following statistics:
Below are the actions taken in accordance with the Executive Order signed January 27, 2017.
CBP Executive Order Actions Recommended Denial of Boarding 721 Legal Permanent Resident (LPR) waivers 1,059 Visa holders granted waivers 75
(Statistics are valid as of 1500 hrs, January 30, 2017)
Most interestingly, CBP seems to be taking a different approach from the State Department with respect to dual citizens. According to CBP,
Travelers are being treated according to the travel document they present.
In other words, any dual citizen can pick the citizenship under which she will be inspected (assuming she has valid credentials).
CBP confirms that students from the affected countries will not be allowed to re-enter:
F1/J1/M1 visas are currently temporarily suspended due to the executive order. Individuals who were in the U.S. at the time of the signing of the executive order are not affected by the order. However, individuals who were out of the country at the time of the signing, or who travel out of the country and attempt to return will not be allowed to return at this time. The Department is evaluating whether those who are precluded from returning as a result of the Executive Order will be considered to have maintained their status as F1 or M1 students.
What about refugees already in transit?
CBP has issued a meaningless statement on how it will address refugees from the impacted countries who are already on their way to the U.S. It states:
There are currently 872 refugees who are considered to be in transit who are scheduled to arrive in the United States this week. The Secretaries of State and DHS have coordinated and will process the 872 individuals consistent with the terms of the Executive Order, which we’ve operationalized by assessing each traveler on a case-by-case basis.
“Operationalized” refers to how an agency has implemented a vague guideline it has been given. “Case-by-case-basis” means that the agency has no policy. In other words, we have absolutely no idea how the refugees in transit are going to be handled.