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March 6, 2017 11:30 a.m. EST
Office of Public Affairs
The Executive Order signed on March 6, 2017, allows for the proper review and establishment of standards to prevent terrorist or criminal infiltration by foreign nationals. The United States has the world’s most generous immigration system, yet it has been repeatedly exploited by terrorists and other malicious actors who seek to do us harm. In order to ensure that the U.S. Government can conduct a thorough and comprehensive analysis of the national security risks posed from our immigration system, the Executive Order imposes a 90-day suspension of entry to the United States of nationals of certain designated countries—countries that were designated by Congress and the Obama Administration as posing national security risks with respect to visa-free travel to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program.
The U.S. Government must ensure that those entering this country will not harm the American people after entering, and that they do not bear malicious intent toward the United States and its people. The Executive Order, together with the Presidential Memorandum, protects the United States from countries compromised by terrorism and ensures a more rigorous vetting process. This Executive Order ensures that we have a functional immigration system that safeguards our national security.
This Executive Order, as well as EO 13767 and EO 13768, provide the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) with additional resources, tools, and personnel to carry out the critical work of securing our borders, enforcing the immigration laws of our Nation, and ensuring that individuals from certain designated countries who pose a threat to national security or public safety cannot enter or remain in our country. Protecting the American people is the highest priority of our government and this Department.
DHS will faithfully execute the immigration laws and the President’s Executive Orders, and will treat everyone we encounter humanely and with professionalism.
The Congress provided the President of the United States, in section 212(f) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), with the authority to suspend the entry of any class of aliens the President deems detrimental to the national interest. This authority has been exercised repeatedly for decades, and has been a component of immigration law since the enactment of the original INA in 1952.
For the next 90 days, foreign nationals from Sudan, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen who are outside the United States on the effective date of the order, do not currently have a valid visa on the effective date of this order, and did not have a valid visa at 5:00 eastern standard time on January 27, 2017, are not eligible to travel to the United States. The 90-day period will allow for proper review and establishment of standards to prevent terrorist or criminal infiltration by foreign nationals.
On the basis of negotiations that have taken place between the Government of Iraq and the U.S. Department of State in the last month, Iraq will increase cooperation with the U.S. Government on the vetting of its citizens applying for a visa to travel to the United States. As a result of this increased information sharing, Iraqi citizens are not affected by the Executive Order. Of course, all normal immigration processing requirements continue to apply, including the grounds of inadmissibility that may be applicable.
In the first 20 days, DHS will perform a global, country-by-country review of the identity and security information that each country provides to the U.S. Government to support U.S. visa and other immigration benefit determinations. Countries will then have 50 days to comply with requests from the U.S. Government to update or improve the quality of the information they provide.
The Executive Order does not apply to certain individuals, such as lawful permanent residents of the United States; foreign nationals admitted to the United States after the effective date of the order; individuals with a document that is valid on the effective date of the order or any date thereafter which permits travel to the United States; dual nationals when travelling on a passport issued by a non-designated country; foreign nationals traveling on diplomatic, NATO, C-2 for travel to the United Nations, G-1, G-2, G-3, or G-4 visas; and individuals already granted asylum or refugee status in the United States before the effective date of the order.
DHS and the Department of State have the discretionary authority, on a case-by-case basis, to issue visas or allow the entry of nationals of these six countries into the United States when a national from one of the countries demonstrates that the denial of entry would cause undue hardship, that his or her entry would not pose a threat to national security, and that his or her entry would be in the national interest.
Similarly, the Refugee Admissions Program will be temporarily suspended for the next 120 days while DHS and interagency partners review screening procedures to ensure refugees admitted in the future do not pose a security risk to the United States. Upon resumption of the Refugee Admissions Program, refugee admissions to the United States will not exceed 50,000 for fiscal year 2017. The Executive Order does not apply to those refugees who have already been formally scheduled for transit by the State Department. During this 120-day period, similar to the waiver authority for visas, the Secretary of State and Secretary of Homeland Security may jointly determine to admit individuals to the United States as refugees on a case-by-case basis, in their discretion, but only so long as they determine that the entry of such individuals as refugees is in the national interest and would not pose a threat to the security or welfare of the United States.
The Department of Homeland Security, in conjunction with the Department of State, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, and the Department of Justice, will develop uniform screening standards for all immigration programs government-wide as appropriate and in the national interest.
The Secretary of Homeland Security will expedite the completion and implementation of a biometric entry-exit system for all in-scope travelers entering and departing the United States.
As part of a broader set of government actions, the Secretary of State will review all nonimmigrant visa reciprocity agreements to ensure that they are, with respect to each visa classification, truly reciprocal.
The Department of State will restrict the Visa Interview Waiver Program and require additional nonimmigrant visa applicants to undergo an in-person interview.
In order to be more transparent with the American people and to more effectively implement policies and practices that serve the national interest, DHS will make information available to the public every 180 days. Specifically, in coordination with the Department of Justice, DHS will make available to the public information regarding the number of foreign nationals who have been charged with terrorism-related offenses while in the United States; convicted of terrorism-related offenses while in the United States; removed from the United States based on terrorism-related activity, affiliation, or material support to a terrorism-related organization, or any other national-security reasons; and information regarding the number and types of acts of gender-based violence against women, including so-called “honor killings,” in the United States by foreign nationals.