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  • Washington Highlights

    President Trump Signs Revised Immigration Executive Order; Immigration Delays Expected

    Matthew Shick, Sr. Director, Gov't Relations & Regulatory Affairs

    President Trump March 6 signed a revised immigration executive order. The order, “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States,” is effective March 17 and rescinds the Jan. 27 executive order, which was halted by a temporary restraining order [see Washington Highlights, Feb. 3]. Several states are once again considering challenging the March 6 executive order in court.

    In a March 6 statement, AAMC President and CEO Darrell G. Kirch, MD, said, “We are deeply disappointed that the revised executive order and accompanying fact sheet do not explicitly recognize the importance of international medical graduates, physicians, and medical researchers to the nation’s health security.” Further, Dr. Kirch urged the administration “at a minimum, to promptly apply waiver and other discretionary authorities to all affected health professionals, including those international medical graduates matching to residency training programs on March 17 who are required to begin training and treating patients on or around July 1, 2017.”

    The March 6 executive order applies only to immigrants that did not have a valid visa on or before Jan. 27. The order again suspends for 90 days the entry for citizens of six countries: Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen, but does not include citizens of Iraq, or those who have traveled to any of these countries. The new executive order also clarifies the exemption of green card holders and travelers with dual citizenship.

    Importantly, Section 3(c) of the new executive order details waivers to the 90-day suspension, including travelers that face an undue hardship, do not pose a security risk, and whose entry is in the national interest. The order also outlines circumstances when such waivers would be appropriate.

    As in the previous version, Section 5 of the March 6 executive order requires agencies to implement “uniform screening and vetting standards for all immigration programs.” Section 9 newly directs the Secretary of State to suspend immediately the Visa Interview Waiver Program. These provisions may delay visa issuance and change of status for all immigrants.

    Meanwhile, additional delays are expected as a result of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) March 3 announcement that they will temporarily suspend premium processing for all H-1B petitions. The suspension “may last for up to 6 months” and applies to all H-1B petitions filed on or after April 3, 2017. On a case-by-case basis, petitioners may submit a request to expedite an H-1B petition.