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State Department Advises on “Extreme Vetting” of Immigrants

by: Justin Burton

On March 6, 2017, President Trump issued a new executive order regarding the travel restrictions of certain immigrants to the United States from Iran, Sudan, Syria, Yemen, Libya, and Somalia and ordered “extreme vetting” for other visa applicants. On March 15, the State Department issued a memorandum from Secretary Rex Tillerson titled “Implementing Immediate Heightened Screening and Vetting of Visa Applications” that elaborated on what should be considered and enforced when it comes to extreme vetting.

First, the memo stated that consular chiefs should decide which immigrants should be subjected to the extreme vetting process. Next, the memo ordered the Department of Homeland Security, State Department, and U.S. Attorney General’s office to enact procedures that would strictly enforce any inadmissibility for visa applicants.

The State Department memo suggested that the following inquiries are to be made in regard to immigrants who require extreme vetting:

  • Review of home addresses for 15 years;
  • Review of employment history for 15 years;
  • Review of travel history for 15 years;
  • Review of social media accounts, email addresses, and phone numbers for five years;
  • Names of former spouses, children, and siblings.

The order includes even stricter security measures for immigrants from the six countries targeted by the executive order. People who live in the 38 countries that participate in the visa waiver program will not be subject to extreme vetting. Whether other individuals will require extreme vetting will apparently be up to the consular chiefs. There has been some concern that certain people may be targeted simply because of their nationality, religion, or name and not because of any legitimate threat.

For people who require extreme vetting, the new measures will likely cause significant delays in the visa application process and may result in a substantially greater number of denied applications.

EO on Hold

Two federal courts have already enjoined all or part of the new executive order. A court in Hawaii halted the entire order while a court in Maryland enjoined the travel ban from the six designated countries. The government has appealed the Maryland decision and has stated its intentions to appeal the Hawaii decision, as well. In the meantime, the travel ban is on hold and so are the extreme vetting procedures for immigrants from those six countries.

It can be difficult to know what is going to happen with the EO or what the extreme vetting process will entail but we will keep you informed of new developments.

Contact a Chicago Immigration Attorney For Help Today

At the law office of Kriezelman Burton & Associates in Chicago, we understand that the continually changing policies regarding immigration in the past few months have been confusing and worrisome. Our skilled immigration lawyers are here to help you understand and protect your rights. If you need assistance with a visa, green card, citizenship, deportation defense, or any other type of immigration matter, please call our office at 312-332-2550 to learn more about how we can help you.

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