February 2, 2017 Travel Advisory and Immigration Update
The last two weeks in Washington have been very eventful in the immigration field. In light of the travel restrictions recently imposed by the President’s executive order, we are now advising our U.S. clients who have foreign national employees in the U.S. and who hold nationality from a country that has been the subject of significant security concerns to consider remaining in the U.S. until the State Department and DHS announce new procedures for applying for travel visas using additional background checks. In some cases, foreign nationals may have to file an extension of status with USCIS in the U.S. to allow them to remain longer. In other cases, it may be impractical for individuals to stay, but they should know that they risk being unable to return for at least several months if they depart. Affected clients should consult with counsel first.
There is also concern that additional countries could be added to the existing list of 7 countries (Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Somalia, Libya, and Yemen) whose nationals are temporarily barred from entry into the U.S. (and whose nationals already in the U.S. are strongly advised to remain here). At the same time, the executive order is facing multiple challenges in federal courts around the country, leading to orders that are altering the terms of the executive order.
In addition, and of particular interest to some clients, there are reports that a separate executive order is being prepared that could alter certain visa programs, including the H-1B “high skilled worker” visa program, in terms of both numbers and qualifications.