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As you know, on Friday, January 27, 2017, President Trump issued an Executive Order (EO) suspending entry into the United States of aliens from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen.  The suspension will be in place for 90 days and applies to both immigrants and nonimmigrants.  Specifically excluded from the EO are foreign nationals traveling on diplomatic visas, North Atlantic Treaty Organization visas, C-2 visas for travel to the United Nations, and G-1, G-2, G-3 and G-4 visas.  The EO also grants authority to the Secretaries of State and Homeland Security to continue issuing visas and other immigration benefits to nationals of otherwise blocked countries, if doing so is deemed to be in the national interest.  Such determinations will be made on a case-by-case basis.

The situation is very fluid and rife with confusion.  There have been widespread reports of nonimmigrant visa holders and lawful permanent residents or “green card” holders being detained upon arrival to the United States over the weekend.

Late Sunday, January 29, 2017, Secretary John Kelly issued a statement deeming the entry of lawful permanent residents to be in the national interest.  According to the statement, “absent the receipt of significant derogatory information indicating a serious threat to public safety and welfare, lawful permanent resident status will be dispositive factor in [the government’s] case-by-case determinations”.

While Secretary Kelly’s comments suggest that lawful permanent residents may be granted entry to the United States during the 90-day suspension period, green card holders from the listed countries should expect a high degree of scrutiny when arriving in the United States.

In the short-term, we recommend that our clients communicate with their employee populations immediately to identify individuals who are from these countries and who may be traveling to and from the United States.  Developing an escalation protocol to support impacted employees, and communicating that protocol to your larger employee population may help to allay fears during this period of uncertainty.  From both a tactical and public relations perspective this will communicate the appropriate sensitivity, awareness and support.


Betsy Stelle Morgan is the head of the Firm's Global Immigration and Mobility Practice. Her work has been published extensively in US and international publications. She is ranked in the Hall of Fame, Legal 500, and has been listed in Chambers Global. Ms. Morgan has been a member of the Chicago Management Committee and has held positions on several global Firm committees.


David M. Serwer represents and advises employers in legal matters related to the global transfer of personnel. He is a frequent speaker on topics relating to US immigration law and compliance, and has written numerous articles for US and international publications. Mr. Serwer is editor of Baker & McKenzie’s Global Immigration & Mobility Update, and was co-author of the United States Business Immigration Manual. He is also actively engaged in pro bono legal work, managing and directing 2-3 naturalization clinics per year and represents 10-20 naturalization applications each year at naturalization hearings.


Ginger Partee represents multinational companies engaged in the global movement of personnel. She has co-authored multiple chapters on US immigration law and policy for human resource and employment compliance manuals, and is editor of Baker & McKenzie’s US Business Immigration Manual. She is also actively involved in the Firm’s pro bono and community service programs.


Shannon Donnelly is a partner in Baker & McKenzie’s Chambers recognized Global Immigration & Mobility Practice Group and serves as the head of the Washington, DC practice. She focuses her practice on employment-based immigration law and has represented and advised clients from a variety of industries, including investment banking and securities, personal and commercial banking, information technology, economic consulting, manufacturing, healthcare and nonprofits.