As part of the Trump Administration’s extreme vetting efforts, certain visa applicants will now be required to complete a rigorous supplemental questionnaire prior to visa issuance. The information requested in the new, supplemental questionnaire is extensive, and includes the applicant’s full travel history for the past 15 years, including locations visited, dates, and source of funds for the visit; all passport numbers; names and dates of birth of all siblings, children, and spouses/partners; complete address and dates of residence for the past 15 years; employment history for the past 15 years; and all social media handles, phone numbers and email addresses for the past five years.

The supplemental questionnaire will not be required of all visa applicants. As part of the visa application interview and screening process, Visa Officers will decide when the individual visa applicant’s background warrants additional security checks. Previous travel by the visa applicant to areas controlled by terrorist groups is expected to make it more likely that the supplemental questionnaire will be requested. The U.S. Department of State estimates that approximately 65,000 people (less than 1% of 13 million visa applicants worldwide) may be requested to complete the supplemental questionnaire each year.


Continue Reading Extreme Vetting Measures To Include Questionnaires Asking for Detailed Travel History and Social Media Information

The order in question is the Trump Administration’s revised Executive Order of March 6, 2017 (“revised EO”). The revised EO would have temporarily restricted certain foreign nationals from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen from entering the United States for a period of 90 days. The revised EO sought to resolve constitutional issues and

On March 17, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson issued a cable to all diplomatic and consular posts worldwide calling for the immediate implementation of heightened screening of visa applications.  Through the cable, Secretary Tillerson instructed consular posts to undertake additional screening measures based on the conclusions of the interagency working groups mandated by the President’s Executive Order.  Visa processing screens at U.S. consular posts will be more invasive and time-consuming for certain individuals, particularly those from the countries listed in the President’s most recent Executive Order and those from Iraq.

Continue Reading New Department of State Cable Implements Extreme Vetting Measures

Seyfarth Synopsis: Although longstanding policy of U.S. Customs and Border Protection authorizes searches of electronic devices in the possession of travelers arriving in the United States, recent reports of such searches have heightened businesses’ concerns when their employees travel.  In the event of such a search, this guidance informs employees about what they can expect, and provides employers with recommendations to ensure against loss, corruption or misuse of company information.

Overview

United States’ Customs laws and regulations (See, 8 U.S.C. § 1582, 19 C.F.R § 162.6) authorize customs officers to inspect, search and/or detain any person, baggage, and/or merchandise arriving in, and or departing from, the United States. This authority extends to inspections, searches and temporary detentions of electronic devices possessed by travelers, including mobile telephones, tablets, and laptop computers. Increasingly searches are becoming more common, and employees traveling with company data and/or information should carry this guidance when returning from foreign travel.  “Supreme Court decisions have upheld the doctrine that CBP’s search authority is unique and does not violate the fourth amendment’s protection against unreasonable searches and seizures.”[1] This exception allows CBP to conduct “routine” searches on luggage, devices, vehicles or persons without a warrant. “However, with this authority, CBP expects all of its officers to conduct their duties in a professional manner, and treat each traveler respectfully.”[2]

Who May Be Chosen for an Inspection

United States Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”) guidance states that a variety of circumstances can lead agents to select a traveler for inspection, search and/or detention of electronic devices, including: travelers holding incomplete travel documents or lacking proper documents and/or visa; travelers who have previously violated a law that CBP enforces; travelers with a name that matches a person of interest in government enforcement databases; and/or travelers randomly selected for such a search.  Selection for a search does not necessarily mean that CBP believes that you have done something wrong. A 2012 CBP Directive noted that “in the course of a border search, with or without individualized suspicion, an Officer may examine electronic devices and may review and analyze the information encountered at the border”.

At this time, CBP has not articulated policies that consider a traveler’s nationality as a factor supporting a search; however, not all criteria applied by CBP have been made public. CBP has also not disclosed whether travel to certain countries could draw scrutiny. There have been reports of foreign visitors as well as United States citizens being subjected to inspections.

What Will Occur During the Search

The manner in which a search is conducted may vary widely depending on a number of factors. A customs official may simply conduct a search through the device and then return it to you.  At the other times, CBP may elect to take temporary custody (‘detention’) of the device for further examination.  If CBP decides to detain your electronic devices, the customs officer will issue you a written receipt (Form 6051-D), which will detail what items are being detained, who at CBP will be your point of contact, and your own contact information in order to facilitate return of the items within a reasonable time.


Continue Reading Searches of Devices at the U.S. Border

Following the challenges to the January 27, 2017 Executive Order titled Protecting the Nation from Terrorist Attacks by Foreign Nationals, on March 6, 2017 President Trump signed a new Executive Order titled Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States.  This new Executive Order will go into effect on March 16, 2017 and includes many changes to the original order, particularly with regard to who is subject to the temporary travel ban.

The New Executive Order

The new Executive Order suspends entry of foreign nationals from countries designated by President Trump as representing a recognized threat, warranting additional scrutiny of nationals seeking to enter the United States.  The six countries included in the temporary ban are Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen.  The new Executive Order removes Iraq from the list of impacted countries.  In the Executive Order, President Trump indicates these countries were designated as countries of concern by the Obama administration and Congress, and he cites the Department of State’s Country Reports on Terrorism 2015 (June 2016) to demonstrate the heightened risks posed by nationals of these countries.  The Executive Order imposes a 90-day suspension on entry to the United States to allow the U.S. government to conduct a review and analysis of the national security risks.  As with the previous order, this order leaves open the possibility of including additional countries on the list.

Specifically, the suspension of entry to the U.S. applies only to foreign nationals of the designated countries who are outside the United States on the effective date of the order (March 16, 2017), did not have a valid visa at 5:00 p.m. EST on January 27, 2017, and do not have a valid visa on the effective date of the order.

As for other aspects of the new Executive Order, the Visa Interview Waiver Program will again be suspended, as it was in the previous order.  Visa applicants from all countries will need to apply in person at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate.   The Executive Order confirms that no immigrant or nonimmigrant visa issued before March 16, 2017 should be revoked, and any individual whose visa was revoked or canceled as a result of the prior Executive Order should be entitled to a travel document confirming permission to travel to the U.S. and seek entry.  In addition, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) will continue to adjudicate all naturalization, immigrant, and non-immigrant visa petitions and applications regardless of nationality.

Exemption from the Travel Ban

The following groups of foreign nationals are exempt:

Lawful Permanent Residents — also known as “LPRs” or “green card holders” — are not subject to this temporary travel ban.  This includes those individuals who hold passports from any of the six designated countries.

Dual nationals — individuals from one of the six listed countries who are also a citizen of a non-designated country — are not subject to the travel ban if they seek entry to the U.S. using a passport issued by a non-designated country.

Nonimmigrant Visa Holders — provided that the visa stamp was issued prior to January 27, 2017 and remains valid.

Foreign nationals holding a valid Advance Parole document.


Continue Reading Revised Travel Ban: President Trump Signs New Executive Order