UPDATE 3: 7:46 PM Jan 29, 2017
Important developments today:
John F. Kelly, secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, released a statement which states that green card holders who are also nationals of Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Somalia, Syria, Yemen, or Libya, would be allowed re-entry into the U.S.
Canada's immigration minister, Ahmed Hussen, has been assured by the White House that Canadian residents can enter the U.S. provided they have a valid Canadian permanent resident card and a passport from one of the seven countries affected. Dual citizens with a Canadian passport are also allowed into the U.S.
However, despite these assurances by U.S. officials, travelers need to exercise caution and be aware that there is a risk that they will not be allowed to enter or re-enter the U.S. if they are citizens of Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Somalia, Syria, Yemen, or Libya. U.S. officials have made numerous contradictory statements and there is no guarantee that the assurances that they have given to Canadians will hold.
UPDATE 2: 11:05 PM Jan 28, 2017
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's office has received assurances from the U.S. that Canadians with dual citizenship will not be turned away at the border, according to an email sent to CP24.
Earlier statements from the U.S. State Department stated that Canadians with dual citizenship from Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Somalia, Syria, Yemen, and Libya would be denied entry to the U.S. for the next 90 days.
UPDATE 10:48 PM Jan 28, 2017
A judge of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District on New York has ordered a stay of removal of individuals with refugee applications approved by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services as part of the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program, holders of valid immigrant and non-immigrant visas, and other individuals from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen legally authorized to enter the United States.
On Friday, January 27, 2017, U.S. President Donald Trump signed an executive order that suspended entry of all refugees to the U.S. for 120 days, barred Syrian refugees indefinitely, and blocked entry into the U.S. for 90 days for citizens of seven countries: Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen.
At this time, there are conflicting news reports and statements from U.S. agencies. News reports indicate that U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents are not clear about the extent of this executive order and have been reaching out to the administration to obtain instructions in specific cases. It is likely that, in the next few days, the administration will provide clarification.
Here is what has been reported so far:
1. Processing of visa application to the U.S. from the countries listed is suspended
The U.S. Embassy in Baghdad sent applicants emails stating that the issuance of visas from the seven countries listed in the order is suspended.
If you are a national, or a dual national, of one of the countries listed, the embassy asks that you not schedule a visa appointment or pay any visa fees at this time. If you already have an appointment scheduled, the U.S. Embassy asks that you not attend the appointment.
2. Previously issued visas to the U.S. have been revoked
The U.S. Embassy in Baghdad confirmed that all previously-issued visas to the U.S. for Iraqi nationals currently residing outside of the U.S. have been revoked. They advise Iraqi nationals to not purchase tickets or to attempt to travel to the U.S. until further notice.
3. The order affects green card holders.
Department of Homeland Security spokeswoman Gillian Christensen told Reuters that the order will bar green card holders.
If a green card holder who is a national of one of the seven countries mentioned in the order leaves the United States, they can be denied re-entry.
A senior administration official clarified to The Hill that green card holders from the seven countries affected who are currently outside the U.S. will need a case-by-case waiver to return to the U.S.
If you are a U.S. green card holder, you are urged to speak to a U.S. immigration lawyer before attempting re-entry. Reports by some U.S. lawyers indicate that green card holders are being pressured to give up their green cards and sign various forms.
4. It seems to bar Canadian dual citizens
The U.S. State Department has told reporters that Canadian dual citizens, who are also citizens of one of the seven countries in the order, are barred from entering the U.S. for 90 days.
The Wall Street Journal reported that the ban extends to people who may originally come from one of the seven countries but have a passport from another nation or dual nationality. The Journal gave an example of an Iraqi person who would be banned even if entering the U.S. on a British passport.
However, there has been conflicting statements made from U.S. Customs and Border Protection, stating that this will be determined on a case by case basis.
Canadian officials are currently in contact with U.S. Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Department of Transportation officials in order to get clarification on the impacts of the restrictions on travels.
5. Religious minorities will be given priority once refugee admissions resume
The executive order stipulates that, once refugee admissions resume, there will be priority given to claims made by individuals on the basis of religious-based persecution, provided that the religion of the individual is a minority religion in the individual’s country of nationality.
The administration has not provided details on this. For example, it is not clear whether Sunni Iraqis, who are a minority in that country, would be given priority.
6. There is a lot that we do not know
The Trump administration and U.S. federal agencies have not been able to provide clarification on many aspects of the executive order. It is clear that, at this time, there is a lot of confusion among border agents and agency staff regarding the implications of this order.
What we do know is that a great many people will have their lives negatively affected by this order. Refugees from the seven listed countries who had been approved to relocate to the U.S. are being denied entry and turned back at the border. Many more will have their applications delayed. Green card holders outside the U.S. may face difficulty returning or may even be barred from re-entry in the short term.
Suliman Lehner Barristers & Solicitors has prepared this document for information only; it is not intended to be legal advice. You should consult a lawyer about your unique circumstances before acting on this information. Suliman Lehner Barristers & Solicitors excludes all liability for anything contained in this document and any use you make of it.