Following travel ban, questions emerge over visas, citizenship ceremonies

World Today

Trump Travel Ban Iranian Supporters cheer as an Iranian citizen with a valid U.S. visa arrives at Los Angeles International Airport Thursday, Feb. 2, 2017. AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

The U.S. State Department on Friday stated that fewer than 60,000 visas were canceled as a result of President Trump’s executive order.

The number from the State Department came shortly after an attorney for the Department of Justice said that 100,000 visas had been revoked following the travel ban on seven Muslim-majority countries, the Washington Post reported.

The executive order, which Trump signed on January 27th, banned travel into the United States for 90 days for people coming from Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Sudan and Yemen — not including green card holders. The order also suspended refugee admissions for 120 days, and indefinitely for refugees from Syria.

On Friday, a Department of Justice attorney spoke during a case where two Yemeni brothers with valid visas to enter the U.S. were put on a return flight to Ethiopia. The brothers arrived at Dulles Airport in Virginia on Saturday, January 28th.

The number of visa revocations also comes in the midst of confusion and concern surrounding citizenship applications.

Criminal defense immigration attorney Sara Dill reported instances where nationals of Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan and Mexico had their citizenship ceremonies canceled following the passage of the executive order by President Donald Trump on Friday Feb. 24, 2017.

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services told CGTN that despite a leaked email as reported by The Intercept, the government office will “continue to adjudicate N-400 applications for naturalization and administer the oath of citizenship consistent with prior practices.” The N-400 is the required form for immigrants to fill in order to apply for Naturalization, to then become U.S. citizens.

The Intercept cites an email from Daniel Renaud, who is the associate director of field operations for Department of Homeland Security’s office of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. “Effectively immediately and until additional guidance is received, you may not take final action on any petition or application where the applicant is a citizen or national of Syria, Iraq, Iran, Somalia, Yemen, Sudan, and Libya,” Renaud wrote in the internal memo.

“Field offices may interview applicants for adjustment of status and other benefits according to current processing guidance and may process petitions and applications for individuals from these countries up to the point where a decision would be made,” he wrote.

When asked about the leaked email, a USCIS spokesman did not deny the email, but said “USCIS does not discuss internal employee communications.”

In response to the reported citizenship ceremony cancelations, the USCIS told CGTN “it is not unusual for candidates to be de-scheduled while administrative issues are resolved,” but added that they “cannot speak to individual cases.”

“I would sense, from my experience,” Dill said, that such cancellations “usually indicated that the immigration services would take some kind of adverse reaction.”

The main concern with these individuals remaining under legal permanent resident (LPR) status, instead of being granted U.S. citizenship is that LPRs are subject to deportations, Dill said.