People protest Donald Trump's travel ban from Muslim majority countries at the International terminal at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) in Los Angeles, California, U.S., January 28, 2017. REUTERS/Patrick T. Fallon

What You Need to Know About Trump’s Executive Order on Immigration

WASHINGTON, D.C.–On Friday, President Donald Trump signed an executive order that restricts immigration from seven countries (predominately Muslim), suspends refugee admission for 120 days, and permanently bans all Syrian refugees.

The seven countries affected are: Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Libya, Yemen and Somalia.

According to CNN, Trump said: “I am establishing new vetting measures to keep radical Islamic terrorists out of the United States of America,” Trump said during the signing at the Pentagon. “We don’t want them here.”
In case you haven’t noticed, the internet exploded with criticism and worry along with several protests in airports across the country. You can see a list by clicking here. 

As of Saturday, 109 people were not allowed in the United States because of the executive order according to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Some light of hope shined late Saturday night when a federal judge in New York granted an emergency stay for citizens from those seven countries who had valid visas and had already arrived.

As an international student what do you need to know so far about this executive order?

Who is not affected?

  • Anyone with U.S citizenship, whether the person is natural-born or naturalized.
    • However, White House chief of staff, Reince Preibus, reminded viewers on Meet the Press that border patrol agents have discretionary authority to question U.S. citizens coming from the seven countries. This is something agents had authority to do even before Friday.

Who is affected?

  • Any refugee waiting to resettle, they have to wait 120 days
  • Syrian refugees are banned permanently
  • Anyone in ANY visa category from Iraq, Iran, Syria, Somalia, Sudan, Libya, and Yemen are not allowed in the U.S.
  • It took two days to clear up the confusion about permanent residents (green card holders) from the seven countries. DHS shared a press release saying green card holders from those seven countries are allowed entry into the United States. There are around 500,000 green card holders from those seven countries.
  • As far as we know, those who have dual-citizenship with one of those seven countries “will not be permitted for 90 days to enter the United States or be issued an immigrant or non-immigrant visa,” a State Department official said.

Long story short: if you are from one of those seven countries and you are already in the United States, do not leave.

If you are outside of the United States and you are from one of those seven countries, according to the executive order you are not allowed in the United States. Again, green card holders will be managed on a case-by-case basis.

Will this eventually affected OPT and H1B working visas? 

There is a ton of speculation that President Trump will make changes to the duration of OPT and the H-1B working visa process. This is because allegedly documents were leaked to news agencies explaining plans to reform legal immigration.

According to various news agencies, the documents that were “leaked” from the White House containing drafts about the next executive order that would limit “legal immigration” by “protecting American jobs and workers by strengthening the integrity of foreign worker visa programs”.

According to the news agencies, the lead documents said the goal would be to “prioritize the interests of American workers and — to the maximum degree possible — the jobs, wages, and well-being of those workers.”

The major changes include:

  • Reversing OPT duration extension
  • Not allow spouses of those on H-1B visas to work
  • DHS to start “site visits” at places who employ workers with L-1 visas and then eventually expand site visits for all employment-based visas

Other things mentioned involving H-1B visas include how to be “more efficient and ensure that beneficiaries of the program are the best and the brightest.” In other words, seeking ways to make sure the best get H-1Bs and not use a lottery system. Nothing specific was mentioned as how to do this.

More things mentioned, but unclear on what will be done:

  • “Improve monitoring of foreign students” and how to looks for ways “to prevent the disadvantaging of U.S. students in the workforce”
  • “reform the J-1 Summer Work Travel program to improve protections of U.S. workers”

It’s really unclear now what will be done until the White House releases the official executive orders. Again, all this information is according to news agencies who received leaked documents.

A suggested read: The Washington Post- H-1B Visas: How Donald Trump Could Change America’s Skilled Worker Visa Rules 

We will continue to monitor the latest news and be sure to keep you updated.

How do the latest executive orders from President Trump make you feel as an international student? 

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