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Travel ban impacting businesses

January 30, 2017

Courtesy of SBAM Approved Partner ASE
Last Friday President Trump signed an Executive Order (EO) which banned travel from seven Muslim-majority countries for 90 days and suspended all refugee admission for 120 days. The seven countries are Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. This suspension will remain in place until April 27, 2017. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is tasked by the EO to determine whether those countries are able to provide adequate information to enable proper screening of nationals from those countries. They must be able to prove that these travelers are not a “security or public safety threat.” Those countries would have 60 days to begin providing the necessary information. Failure to do so would keep the travel ban active until the requirements are met. 

The EO does not clearly define the circumstances under which an individual is considered to be “from a designated” country. In other words, anyone attempting to travel to the United States using these passports (even if they have a green card, H1-B, TN, L, F or J visas or other visas) may be unable to board a plane heading to the U.S., detained in the U.S. if they do arrive, and possibly deported. 

Over the past weekend Customs and Border Protection (CBP) have taken actions that prevented individuals from those countries to leave the airport. CBP, in response to the EO, has detained a number of individuals from those countries – citizens, lawful permanent residents, visa holders, approved refugees and others. Three U.S. Federal District Courts have granted seven-day temporary restraining orders (TRO) stopping the CBP from deporting legally entitled persons to stay in the U.S., but no TRO released anyone held by CBP. 

The EO follows what President George W. Bush instituted in 2002 after 9/11, the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System (NSEERS), to record and monitor the arrival, stay, and departure of certain foreign citizens from the very same seven countries identified in the EO. However, NSEERS was broader than the EO as it included foreign citizens from other countries including Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Egypt, Eritrea, Indonesia, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Morocco, North Korea, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen. President Obama terminated the NSEERS program in 2012.

The EO also follows a federal law passed in 2015 that requires visas for those who have traveled to Iran, Iraq, Sudan and Syria for those nationals who ordinarily would not need a visa to travel to the U.S. for business or vacation – i.e., from Great Britain, France, etc. It was expanded in 2016 to include Libya, Somalia and Yemen. This program is still in effect.

Businesses with employees who are overseas or currently planning on traveling internationally should review the inventory to see if any of the employees could be at risk.

Per Alexandra LaCombe, Partner, Fragomen Worldwide and ASE member, “Organizations should identify and determine whether the company wishes to notify employees who may be subject to the entry ban. This includes foreign nationals currently in the United States, as well as overseas employees who may have been planning travel to the United States. Employers should also be aware that travel delays are likely for foreign employees who are not subject to the entry ban but who are applying for U.S. visas. Foreign nationals subject to the ban must be aware of the following important travel considerations: 

  • Those in the United States as nonimmigrants and adjustment applicants should avoid international travel for the duration of the ban. Those who depart the United States should expect to be denied reentry while the ban is in effect. 
  • Those who are in transit to the United States when the ban takes effect could be refused permission to board a flight to the United States or refused admission at a U.S. port of entry. 
  • Those planning future trips to the United States should be prepared for the possibility of an extension of the travel ban beyond April 27, 2017 and a resulting delay in their travel.”

For more information on the EO contact ASE.

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