What International Students Should Know about Trump's Latest Executive Order

Erin CaswellErin Caswell | March 8, 2017

Green card holders, visa holders, travelers, and international students from seven predominantly Muslim countries have experienced turmoil and fear in the saga surrounding President Donald Trump’s recent executive order on immigration. The document originally prohibited any citizen from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen from entering the U.S. for 90 days. New refugees were also barred, and travelers were detained in airports across the country when the original Trump ban went into effect on Jan. 27. 

Nearly 45 days later, these vulnerable groups are still in a precarious position. International students from all over the world (not just the countries listed in the ban) are especially susceptible to doubts about the issue. Trump’s newest ban, signed on March 6th, which revokes and replaces the original immigration ban, continues to raise concerns among the international education community.

What Are the Most Recent Updates?

To quickly recap as to how we arrived at a second, new ban being issued by the Trump administration: After Washington state challenged the policy’s constitutionality, a judge instituted a restraining order that temporarily delayed the order’s implementation. The Justice Department appealed this ruling, but on Feb. 9, the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled against them.

Immediately after the ruling, President Trump tweeted (in all caps) “SEE YOU IN COURT, THE SECURITY OF OUR NATION IS AT STAKE!” Subsequently, a Ninth Circuit judge asked for the motion be reheard en banc (with a full court present). However, the court delayed these proceedings at the Justice Department’s request after Trump announced during a news conference that he would issue a new order within a week. Two and a half weeks later, on March 6th, he signed the new version of the ban.

Who Does the Most Recent Order Affect?

Notably, the new ban affects citizens from six nations, which include Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. A White House official told CNBC that Iraq was removed from the list due to the two countries’ military relationship and the new screening measures implemented by the Iraqi government.

The updated measure will still impose a 120-day ban on refugee admittance. It will also prevent citizens of the six listed nations from entering the country after the ban is imposed. On the bright side, it does remove measures that previously barred Syrian refugees from attaining entry for an indefinite period and potentially providing waivers on a case-by-case basis.

The order won’t apply to permanent residents with valid green cards, dual citizens who have a passport from an unbarred nation, visa holders who obtained their documents on or before Jan. 27 or on the new ban’s effective date of March 16th, and “non-immigrants” who remain in the U.S. lawfully on March 16th. Notably, these measures exclude those whose visas expired between Jan. 27 and March 16th.

As NAFSA: Association of International Educators notes on their website, the current order still doesn’t clarify whether non-immigrants will be able to alter their status or reapply for the same visa after their current documents expire. Opponents of the order have also taken issue with the delay of the implementation, arguing it contradicts the Trump administration’s position that giving notice for the original ban would have compromised America’s security.

Where Do We Go from Here?

The dust is still settling on Trump’s newest immigration ban and many provisions require further interpretation and agency guidance. We also do not know how the new executive order will impact any ongoing litigation related to the original ban, or whether new suits will be filed.

International students and scholars can rely on their international advisors and university resources for guidance and support during this challenging time. Any detailed questions or legal advice should be sought from an experienced immigration attorney.

Jill Welch, Deputy Executive Director for Public Policy of NAFSA, provided solid perspective on the current environment for international students in the U.S., stating, “Although the revised executive order makes some changes, the concerns NAFSA raised about the first executive order still remain. The new policy undermines the nation’s long-held values and makes America less safe by issuing a blanket ban on entire nations. The January 27 executive order caused enormous collateral damage as students and scholars were suddenly stranded abroad, and prospective students and scholars around the world are questioning whether the United States has lost its place as a nation that welcomes individuals. Today’s order continues to cause confusion and uncertainty about whether other countries will be added to the list in the future and raises issues for students who will be applying for visas in the months to come.”

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Erin Caswell

Erin is the director of The Lewer Agency’s LewerMark Student Insurance division where her main focuses are on program management and client relations. Prior to her tenure with LewerMark, Erin was a sixth grade teacher, which makes her uniquely qualified in the student insurance market. She has now worked at LewerMark for over five years and is licensed in Life & Health insurance. Erin has three children who she enjoys taking on long walks and playing catch with—they just happen to be furry and bark at the mailman. She also enjoys traveling and exploring and is known around the office as a certified health nut hippie.

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