Trump administration travel ban: Impact on foreign employees

Travel banThe Trump administration on June 1 petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to rule on the constitutionality of an executive order issued in March banning entry to the United States for 90 days for nationals of six countries—Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen—and banning entry of all refugees for 120 days.

The order would have taken effect on March 16, but was stalled by federal court rulings against the travel ban. The administration’s appeal requested an immediate stay of rulings by both the 4th and 9th Circuit Courts of Appeal prohibiting the travel ban from being implemented.

Whether or not the executive travel ban ever takes effect, foreign workers—particularly those from the banned countries, but also those from other Muslim countries—are feeling the impact. So are employers.

Who’s affected, who’s exempt?

If the executive order is implemented, any nationals of the six countries who do not have a valid U.S. visa will not be permitted to board flights to the United States or enter the country.

The travel ban does not apply to:

  • Nationals from banned countries who are already in the U.S.
  • Lawful permanent residents (green card holders)
  • Foreign nationals who hold advance parole or a comparable document that permits entry
  • Dual nationals holding passports issued by a nondesignated nation
  • Foreign nationals traveling on a designated diplomatic visa
  • Foreign nationals previously granted asylum or refugee status.

Impact on your employees

Even though the travel ban is currently on hold, travelers of any nationality—including lawful permanent residents and U.S. citizens—should anticipate additional delays and questions when reentering the U.S.

Foreign national employees should expect to go through “secondary inspection” and be questioned about the purpose of their travel, their stay in the U.S. and their work.

Customs and Border Protection inspectors may search any person or item, including electronic devices, whether they belong to the traveler or the employer.

In addition, the administration has issued guidance to U.S. embassies and consulates limiting the number of visa interviews they can conduct per day, which likely will increase the wait times for foreign workers seeking U.S. visas while abroad.


Jane W. Goldblum is a founder and partner and Kristen R. Dennis is a lead attorney of Goldblum & Pollins, which offers expertise in all areas of immigration law.

What to tell foreign employees

Meet with foreign workers before they travel internationally. They need to be prepared to answer questions from U.S. customs officials and have the appropriate documents. Employees should:

  • Carry contact information for a company representative who customs officers can call to answer questions about the foreign national.
  • Along with the appropriate visas, carry the underlying petition that details the foreign national’s position, salary and qualifying credentials. Carry evidence of current employment, such as the petition’s notice of approval (Form I-797) and a recent pay stub.