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CIS Memo: Executive Order Does Not Impact CIS Adjudications for Persons Present in the United States

3 Feb

Shortly after the issuance of the President’s Executive Order on January 27th, confusion arose regarding the impact of the order on benefits adjudications for persons from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen by U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services in the United States.

The wording of the Executive Order is unclear. The order clearly bans admissions to the United States for the 90-day period, and most activity thus far has been related to travel problems. However, in a separate section of the Executive Order, reference is made to other immigration benefits. The reference to other immigration benefits initially led many to believe that there will be at least some temporary delay in, or possibly even temporary suspension of, the adjudication of immigration petitions and applications for citizens of the seven named countries.

Now the Acting Director of U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (CIS) has clarified by memo addressed to all U.S. CIS employees that the Executive Order “does not affect USCIS adjudications of applications and petitions for or on behalf of individuals in the United States regardless of their country of nationality.” Further, according to the memo, the order does not apply to those outside the United States if the approval of the petition or application would not confer travel authorization. This means that the adjudication of an immigrant visa petition by U.S. CIS would not be impacted, because adjudication of the petition itself would not confer a travel benefit. By contrast, U.S. Department of State adjudication of a visa application, whether immigrant or nonimmigrant, would be impacted.

The memo does not limit the types of petitions and applications, and does specifically reference the following, which continue to be adjudicated: I-485 Applications to Adjust Status; Refugee/Asylee Relative petitions for beneficiaries currently in the United States; refugee interviews when the person is a religious minority in his or her country of nationality; and affirmative asylum cases.

For answers to frequently asked questions, please review our updated Fact Sheet and join us on Tuesday, February 7th for a webinar covering the latest updates on this fluid situation.

Foster LLP will continue to closely monitor these travel issues. We will provide additional information in future Immigration Updates©, on our firm’s website at, and at our upcoming Immigration Update© seminars.