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Extreme Vetting for Visa Applicants – Just not for the Countries in the Travel Ban

Subsequent to President Trump’s March 6, 2017 Executive Order Suspending travel to the US of certain nationals and Presidential Memorandum directing the Secretary of State, the Attorney General, and the Secretary of Homeland Security to implement “immediate heightened screening and vetting of applications for visas and other immigration benefits,” Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has issued cables (CABLE 23338, CABLE 24324, CABLE 24800, CABLE 25814) to his consular chiefs regarding the implementation of “extreme vetting” procedures. 

Per the cables, “Consular chiefs must immediately convene post’s law enforcement and intelligence community partners” to develop “sets of post-applicant populations warranting increased scrutiny.”  The cables additionally suggests areas of inquiry for this purpose, including 15 years of travel, address and work history and five years of phone numbers, email addresses, and social media handles.  A later cable, however, instructed that the 15 year lines of inquiry were not be implemented until the Department of State receives Office of Management and Budget (OMB) approval. 

Ironically, given the court orders that have enjoined the 90-day travel ban on individuals from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen, a later cable issued on March 16, 2017 instructed Consular Officials to suspend “extreme vetting” for individuals from those six countries. 

Fisher Phillips will continue monitor and report on important events as they occur. If you have any questions, please contact your Fisher Phillips legal representative for assistance.

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