On 27 January 2017 President Trump issued an Executive Order “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States” that banned travel to the country for nationals of seven designated countries – Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen for a period of 90 days. The ban was implemented immediately and caused chaos at airports as travellers with valid immigration documents were detained or deported after arriving on flights from overseas.
Lawful Permanent Residents
US Customs and Border protection has clarified that the ban will be imposed on travellers who have a valid passport from one of the seven countries with the exception of lawful permanent residents (“LPRs”). However, LPRs from the countries of concern are likely to be subjected to extra security screening upon entering the US and should therefore be prepared for lengthy questioning before being admitted.
US Citizens and Dual Nationals
It has now been clarified that US citizens are not subjected to the travel ban, including those holding dual nationality with one of the seven designated countries. Dual nationals of one of the seven countries should be admitted if they apply for entry on a valid passport from a country not on the list. US Customs and Border Protection has stated that travellers will be treated according to the travel document they present. For example, if they present a British passport they will be processed for entry based on their UK citizenship.
Extra Security Screening
All travellers – including US citizens and dual nationals, LPRs and non-immigrants – who have travelled to Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen should expect to be questioned when re-entering the United States and are likely to be subjected to extra security screening. Their phones, laptops and other electronic devices may also be searched.
Although the US Government has provided further guidance relating to certain provisions of the Executive Order, risks and uncertainties remain and there are ongoing legal challenges from the States of Washington, New York, Massachusetts and Virginia. We will continue to closely monitor the situation as it develops.