In his first 100 days, President Trump has issued several immigration-related executive orders. From the so-called Travel Ban and its sequel, to efforts to increase border security and defund sanctuary cities, to the “Buy American, Hire American” action that targets the H-1B visa program, it can be difficult to keep track of the current status of immigration law and how it affects those seeking entry into the United States. Even for those who have been diligently following the release of these executive orders, the challenge remains in understanding what exactly they all mean and how they will be utilized in practice. Many of the orders use vague language and buzzwords, and it is unclear how exactly the Administration intends to enact its vision.
One such example of this vague rhetoric that we have seen repeatedly is the promise of extreme vetting of foreign-nationals seeking legal entry into the United States. Based on information from leaked government documents and the type of vetting already used, we can formulate an idea as to what new procedures might look like. Applicants could be asked to provide their phones and devices to embassy or consulate staff for examination of contacts and photos, provide their social media handles and passwords for review of their social media presence and what kind of websites they visit, and provide 15 years’ worth of travel and employment history and addresses. In some cases, travelers are already asked to provide their electronic devices, but the Administration could make this a regular occurrence. Furthermore, the vetting might entail asking more detailed questions in the interview process, including questions regarding a visa applicant’s social and political beliefs and ideals.
All of this would mean further delays for visa applicants. For many, applying for and receiving a visa is already a cumbersome and time-consuming process, but additional vetting procedures would certainly slow down this process. Others worry about the affect new procedures could have on the average business traveler considering doing business in the U.S. or bringing associates to the U.S for travel or conferences. Because of the burdensome nature of the application process, these individuals might think twice about traveling to the U.S. As these procedures begin to roll out, we will know more about exactly how the vetting process will change and how it might affect the average visa applicant. Dayzad Law will continue to monitor these changes and provide the most up to date information for current and future clients.