Is It Safe for Me to Travel?09 Feb 2017
Over the past couple of weeks, we at the Murthy Law Firm have received scores of inquiries regarding President Trump’s January 27, 2017 executive order that instituted a travel ban on foreign nationals from seven predominantly Muslim countries (Iran, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Sudan, Libya, and Somalia). As of this writing, a federal court order is preventing the government from enforcing the travel ban. Regardless, however, we continue to see one question asked time and time again: “Is it safe for me to travel?”
Passport Holders from Countries on Travel Ban List
Although the executive order is not in effect at the moment, it could be reinstituted in very short order. Therefore, for those who have a passport from one of the seven listed countries and who are presently in the United States in lawful nonimmigrant status, the best advice generally would be to avoid any travel abroad at the moment. For those who are outside the U.S. and wish to enter or return as nonimmigrants, for example to return to school on F-1 visas or to resume H1B positions, it likely would be best to, if possible, come to the U.S. immediately. But, even this may carry some risks, as it is certainly possible to board the plane at a time when travel is allowed, but find that the ban has been put back in place by a court before landing in the United States.
Note that U.S. citizens – even those who are dual nationals with one of the countries on the travel ban list – should be admitted to the U.S., regardless of whether the travel ban is in effect. Lawful permanent residents (LPRs or “green card” holders) from these countries were initially included in the travel ban, but this policy was reversed shortly after the travel ban was instituted. It does not appear that the Trump administration is currently requesting that the courts allow LPRs to be added back to the travel ban.
Passport Holders from Countries NOT on Travel Ban List
Foreign nationals who are not from one of the seven listed countries were never subject to a travel ban based on this executive order. We have, however, seen increased enforcement and questioning at borders by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). Foreign nationals traveling abroad should bring all immigration documents and be prepared for an increased level of scrutiny.
We at the Murthy Law Firm are aware that some in the immigration community recommend that foreign nationals avoid even domestic air travel within the United States. We feel these warnings are unwarranted. There generally is no immigration screening whatsoever during domestic travel. There certainly have been incidents of racial profiling at airports related to security screenings, which have resulted in inconvenience and possibly embarrassment to certain travelers, but there is little reason to believe that domestic travel presents any reasonable immigration risk for foreign nationals.
This is a time of heightened scrutiny at U.S. ports of entry, and of a rapidly changing immigration landscape. Stay tuned to our Current Administration & Immigration page and subscribe to our free MurthyBulletin for further updates on these and other matters.
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