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President Trump Executive Orders and Proclamations
Frequently Asked Questions

Please note that immigration policy is changing frequently. Check back to these FAQs periodically for important updates. (Last update September 25, 2017).

In the first few months of 2017, President Trump issued several Executive Orders directly applicable to immigrants. The Orders affected foreign nationals already inside the U.S. and foreign nationals seeking to travel here. One of the Orders was appropriately referred to by the American people as the Muslim and Refugee Ban because Muslims and refugees were singled out and harmed by the Order. After federal courts blocked portions of the Ban, the President revised the Order which was set to expire on September 24, 2017. That same day, the White House issued a Presidential Proclamation creating a more permanent Muslim and Refugee Ban.

Below are answers to frequently asked questions many of you have sent us about the Executive Orders and the Presidential Proclamation. As always, Immigration Equality will look for every opportunity to fight to keep our community safe!

While the Muslim and Refugee Ban was designed to discriminate against people trying to enter the United States, other Executive Orders make international travel for some people already living here risky. In many instances below, we discourage international travel for certain immigrants. Nevertheless, we appreciate that there are times when travel may be a necessity. To know the individualized risk of international travel to you, please consult with a reputable immigration attorney before leaving the United States. For additional guidance or for a referral to a culturally competent attorney, contact Immigration Equality at: www.immigrationequality.org/contact. While we are committed to answering everyone’s questions as soon as possible, please note that we have experienced a great increase in the demand for our legal services. Please be patient.

Travel and the Muslim and Refugee Ban

What nations are included in the current Muslim and Refugee Ban?

President Trump has restricted or will restrict entry into the United States for individuals from Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela, and Yemen. Some of these restrictions are immediate while others go into effect October 18, 2017. A waiver of the Ban may be available for individuals in certain circumstances (see below), but it is unclear how often waivers will be granted. The exact restrictions are as follows:

Chad – Starting October 18, 2017, citizens from Chad may not obtain permanent residence (green cards) from the United States, nor will they be eligible for B1/B2 visitor visas. However, other kinds of visas may still be available.

Iran –  Starting September 24, 2017, citizens from Iran may not obtain permanent residence (green cards) from the United States, and may only apply for student visas (F, M, and J visas). No other visas will be made available. Iranians may be exempt from the Ban until October 18, 2017 if they can demonstrate a bona fide relationship to a U.S. citizen or institution (see below).

Libya – Starting September 24, 2017, citizens from Libya may not obtain permanent residence (green cards) from the United States, nor will they be eligible for B1/B2 visitor visas. However, other kinds of visas may still be available. Libyans may be exempt from the Ban until October 18, 2017 if they can demonstrate a bona fide relationship to a U.S. citizen or institution (see below).

North Korea – Beginning October 18, 2017, citizens from North Korea may not obtain permanent residence (green cards) from the United States, nor may they obtain any kind of visa. This is functionally an absolute ban on travel to the United States for North Koreans.

Syria – Starting September 24, 2017, citizens from Syria may not obtain permanent residence (green cards) from the United States, nor may they obtain any kind of visa. This is functionally an absolute ban on travel to the United States for Syrians. However, Syrians may be exempt from the Ban until October 18, 2017 if they can demonstrate a bona fide relationship to a U.S. citizen or institution (see below).

Venezuela – Starting October 18, 2017, certain Venezuelan government officials and their immediate relatives may not obtain permanent residence (green cards) in the United States and also may not apply for B1/B2 visitor visas. Other Venezuelans may still apply for permanent residence and for visas. However, eligible applicants will be subject to “additional measures to ensure traveler information remains current.”

Yemen – Starting September 24, 2017, citizens from Yemen may not obtain permanent residence (green cards) from the United States, nor will they be eligible for B1/B2 visitor visas. However, other kinds of visas may still be available. Yemeni may be exempt from the Ban until October 18, 2017 if they can demonstrate a bona fide relationship to a U.S. citizen or institution (see below).

Somalia –  Starting September 24, 2017, Somalians may not obtain permanent residence (green cards) in the United States, but are not otherwise barred from visa eligibility. However, the President has instructed the State Department to subject visa applications by Somalians to “additional scrutiny.” Somalians seeking green cards may be exempt from the Ban until October 18, 2017 if they can demonstrate a bona fide relationship to a U.S. citizen or institution (see below).

Note: if you are a dual national of one of the banned countries and a non-banned country, you may still apply for a visa if you do so with a travel document issued by the non-banned nation. Similarly, if you are from a banned nation, and you have a travel document that does not require a U.S. visa, you may seek to enter the United States with that document.

I am from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, or Yemen, and wish to apply for a visa before the President’s Proclamation goes into effect on October 18, 2017. How do I establish a bona fide relationship to a U.S. person or institution?

Between now and October 18, 2017, individuals from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen are exempt from the Muslim and Refugee Ban if they can demonstrate a bona fide relationship to a person or entity. However, bona fide relationship may only be to a close family member, an academic institution, or a professional or cultural opportunity. The Supreme Court has held that close family members include parents, children, spouses, grandparents, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, nephews, nieces, cousins, and brothers or sisters-in-law. Official documentation demonstrating your relationship will be essential.

Is there a waiver for the permanent Muslim and Refugee Ban?

A consular officer at a U.S. embassy or a border protection officer at a port of entry may waive the restrictions in the permanent Muslim and Refugee Ban if an applicant can demonstrate that:

  1. Denying entry would cause the foreign national undue hardship; and
  2. Allowing the foreign national to enter would not pose a threat to national security or public safety; and
  3. Allowing the foreign national entry would be in the national interest.

It is not clear how often such waivers would be granted. The President has instructed the Secretaries of State and Homeland Security to issue guidance on the waiver process, but the agencies have not yet responded to this request. In the meantime, the President’s September 24, 2017 proclamation contains a list of examples of situations in which a wavier may be appropriate.

I am originally from Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela, or Yemen, but now I am a U.S. citizen. Does the Muslim and Refugee Ban affect me?

If you are a United States citizen, you may travel outside of the country even if you were originally from one of the banned nations, no matter what happens. U.S. citizens must always be allowed to re-enter the United States. At the same time, as a U.S. citizen, you cannot be subjected to deportation, ever. We recommend that you carry proof of your U.S. citizenship with you. If you are a citizen and you have had problems entering the U.S., please contact Immigration Equality immediately.

I am originally from Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela, and Yemen, but now I am a permanent resident of the U.S.  Does the Muslim and Refugee Ban affect me?

The current Muslim and Refugee Ban does not apply to anyone who is a permanent resident (someone with a green card). We note nevertheless that some permanent residents from the banned nations are reporting extensive questioning and long delays at the border even if they were eventually admitted.

I am originally from Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela, or Yemen, and I have a valid visa that allows me to request entry into the United States. Does the Muslim and Refugee Ban apply to me?

The current Muslim and Refugee Ban does not apply to a person who already has a valid visa.

I am NOT from one of the six banned countries. How does the Muslim and Refugee Ban affect me?

If you are living in the United States with lawful status and you are not from one of the banned nations, your ability to enter or reenter the United States should not have changed. However, the travel bans were deeply disconcerting. That is, the President repeatedly indicated during his campaign that the purpose of the bans was to target Muslims, which is not a legitimate government interest. In addition, the Executive Orders and Presidential Proclamation state that more countries may be added to the list of banned nations in the future. Given how broad the previous bans have been, we have concerns about future policy changes that may be issued. In short, international travel for anyone who is not a U.S. citizen may carry risks.

Note: Not all immigration statuses allow for international travel; be sure you’re allowed to travel before leaving the United States.

Unfortunately, we have heard some reports of visa holders, green card holders, and some citizens targeted by border patrol for invasive questioning. However, most of the reports we have heard were from individuals who were eventually admitted into the United States. Immigration Equality is committed to fighting the Muslim and Refugee Bans and any new restrictions on LGBTQ and HIV-positive immigrants. If you or your family members have been stopped at the border for more than three hours, contact Immigration Equality for help.

Refugees and Asylum Seekers

Does the Muslim and Refugee Ban affect LGBTQ and/or HIV-positive refugees who have been cleared to resettle in the United States?

The Muslim and Refugee Ban put a temporary halt on the U.S. government from designating any new refugees until October 24, 2017. It also halted the State Department from resettling refugees through the United States Refugee Admissions Program. However, individuals who have already been designated as refugees who travel to the U.S. through some other means are likely to be allowed to enter. The Ban also reduced the number of refugees that the U.S. may resettle in 2017 from 110,000 to 50,000. In July 2017, this cap was reached.

Note: the cap on refugees does not apply to asylum seekers who are in the United States.

I am an LGBTQ and/or HIV-positive asylum seeker. Will the Muslim and Refugee Ban affect my application?

Despite the President’s orders and proclamation, many important aspects of the asylum framework remain the same. For example, the U.S. will continue to protect asylum seekers on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity if they have a reasonable fear of persecution from their country of origin.

However, certain Executive Orders that predate the Muslim and Refugee Ban may affect how asylum cases are adjudicated in the United States. For example, one calls for prioritizing the cases of people in detention over other cases. This will likely mean that the very long wait time to have an asylum case adjudicated will increase for those who are not detained.

Note: If you have filed for asylum and your case is NOT in court, you can check the average wait time here: https://www.uscis.gov/humanitarian/refugees-asylum/asylum/affirmative-asylum-scheduling-bulletin. If your case IS in immigration court, you may check the date of your next hearing by calling toll free: 1-800-898-7180. Please have your alien registration (or A number) ready.

Furthermore, one Executive Order instructs the Department of Homeland Security to target for deportation anyone who has been convicted of a crime, who has been charged with a crime, or who has done something that could be deemed a “chargeable offense.” This language is very vague, and probably a violation of due process. It is not yet clear how the asylum offices or the immigration courts will implement this new policy. But for now, if you have any concerns about whether you may be at risk for being accused of a crime or a “chargeable offense,” you should speak with a reputable immigration attorney for advice.

The American asylum system is an absolute necessity for LGBTQ and HIV-positive people from all parts of the world. Everyone should have the right to express their sexual orientation and gender identity proudly and openly. At the same time, no one should ever be subjected to stigma or punishment because they are living with HIV. Our nation has long been a beacon of hope for those in need of protection. It must remain so. Immigration Equality will work every day to protect and preserve the asylum system for our community.

I am an LGBTQ person and/or a person living with HIV in the United States and I am from a nation where I cannot safely live.  Should I apply for asylum?

If you are inside of the United States and you are eligible for asylum, we recommend that you apply. Despite rapid changes and shifts in the Administration’s priorities, it is probably better for an eligible applicant to apply and have an application pending than to have nothing pending at all. However, many factors are considered in determining eligibility for asylum. A fear of persecution alone may not be sufficient for you to be successful. It is very important that you speak to a reputable immigration lawyer before you file any paperwork. Seeking an attorney’s advice is particularly important for anyone (1) who has been accused of, charged with, or convicted of a crime or (2) who has ever interacted with immigration officials in the past.

I am considering applying for asylum, when should I do so?

Generally, an asylum applicant must file for asylum within one year of their last entry into the United States. However, there are many exceptions to that rule. To learn more about possible exceptions that may apply to someone’s case, see this portion of our website: http://www.immigrationequality.org/get-legal-help/our-legal-resources/asylum/applying-for-asylum/#exceptions.

If you are currently in valid legal status in the United States, and you have decided that you are going to file for asylum, you should do so before the expiration of your current status. However, keep in mind that applying for asylum is also a declaration of your intent to remain permanently in the United States. As such, filing for asylum may make it impossible for you to renew your current temporary status or obtain a new kind of temporary status.

How will the Executive Orders and Presidential Proclamation affect an applicant trying to apply for asylum at the border?

The new policies should not change an applicant’s right to apply for asylum at the border. However, even before the Trump Administration was elected, it was very difficult to apply for asylum at the border. We have heard many reports that asylum seekers are regularly turned away at the border even if they expressed a fear of persecution to border patrol officials. You do not need to apply for asylum at the border if you are admitted or if you cross the border without permission. That is, anyone inside the U.S. may apply for asylum from within the country. For now, most asylum applicants who apply from inside the U.S. are not being detained. Most applicants are also allowed to remain in the U.S. until a decision is made on their claim.

Note: all ports of entry, including international airports in the United States, are considered to be “the border.” If you fly into the U.S., and you announce your intent to file for asylum at the airport, the U.S. government is very likely to detain you. If you leave the airport and file for asylum from the interior of the U.S., you are unlikely to be detained.

If you are detained by border patrol agents, and you would like to seek asylum in the United States, you should ask for a “credible fear interview.” Please note that if you are scheduled for a credible fear interview, you may wait for weeks or months in a detention facility before a judge makes a decision on your case. President Trump’s Executive Orders also focus additional resources on the creation of more detention facilities and make it much harder for detained asylum seekers to secure their release from detention.

Immigration Equality has received many reports from detained asylum seekers that their parole requests are being denied and that they are not being given the option of a bond.  The refusal of the Department of Homeland Security to release LGBTQ and HIV-positive asylum seekers is reckless and wrong. While immigration detention is inhumane for all people, it is especially dangerous for LGBTQ immigrants. Immigration Equality will do everything in our power to secure the release of our community.

I have an asylum application pending, can I travel internationally?

If you have an application pending, and you leave the United States, your asylum application is likely to be deemed abandoned.  So if at all possible, do NOT travel abroad. While there is some possibility to obtain permission to travel (through a process called advanced parole), such applications are rarely granted. We also strongly recommend that you do NOT travel to U.S. territories such as Puerto Rico or the U.S. Virgin Islands. If you desperately need to travel for an important humanitarian purpose, please contact Immigration Equality for a free consultation.

How will the Executive Orders and Presidential Proclamation affect my application for work authorization?

For now, there is no indication that a person’s eligibility for work authorization will be changed in any way. Much of the authority for work authorization comes from federal statutes that can only be changed by an act of Congress. Nevertheless, you may continue to expect delays in the processing of work authorization documents. This has been a trend, even before President Trump took office.

I am eligible to apply for a green card or for naturalization, should I wait?

If you are eligible for a green card, or to become a citizen, you should apply to do so promptly. Becoming a permanent resident or a citizen substantially increases your security to live in America. However, if you have ever been accused of, charged with, or convicted of a crime, or if you have ever filed incomplete or inaccurate immigration or visa papers in the past, or if you came to the U.S. without permission, you should consult with a reputable attorney before filing any paperwork.

Enforcement Priorities

What are “sanctuary cities” and how will the Executive Orders affect them?

“Sanctuary cities” (referred to as “sanctuary jurisdictions” in the Executive Orders) are states, counties, or cities that refuse to use their own resources to facilitate the deportation of immigrants. For example, in a sanctuary city, local authorities often will not hold a person for immigration agents to pick them up unless they are a danger to their community.

The Executive Orders imply that local authorities must help Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to enforce the President’s mass deportation plans. This is wrong. Both the Department of Homeland Security and several courts have confirmed that the President cannot require local law enforcement to aid in someone’s deportation. Furthermore, for local law enforcement, the practice of detaining people without a warrant is problematic at best and unconstitutional at worst.

The Executive Orders also threaten to punish sanctuary cities by withholding federal funds from them. The President cannot legally do this.  It would be unconstitutional to force state and local governments to carry out federal responsibilities, and attempt to extort them in order to do so.

Many sanctuary cities, including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, New Haven, Syracuse and Austin, and many more, have committed to staying firm to protect the immigrants living in their jurisdictions.

I am an undocumented immigrant who has been accused of, charged with, or convicted of a crime. Am I considered an “enforcement priority”?

“Enforcement priorities” describe which immigrants the President has instructed the U.S. government to focus its deportation efforts on. Under the Obama Administration, government officials were instructed not to target immigrants with no criminal history, who had lived a long time in the U.S., and who had strong ties to America. The Trump Executive Orders dismantle this system, and put many more people at risk.

While the U.S. government has long made individuals who have been convicted of a crime a priority for deportation, the Executive Orders appear to expand the definition of a conviction. One Order implies that just being accused of a chargeable offense is sufficient to make someone a deportation priority. How exactly this change would be carried out is still unclear. However, if you have had any negative interactions with law enforcement agents, the police, or immigration enforcement agents, seek legal counsel immediately.

The President’s presumption of guilt for immigrants who are only accused or charged with a crime is at odds with one of the most fundamental principles of the U.S. legal system. In America, you are presumed innocent until you are proven guilty. These provisions in the Executive Orders are overbroad and inhumane. Immigration Equality will make every effort to fight their implementation. But, until these provisions are revoked or struck down, they may well be used against LGBTQ or HIV-positive immigrants. If you are seeking to apply for naturalization, a family-based green card, for asylum, or for any other immigration benefit, we recommend you speak to a reputable attorney before filing any papers.