President Trump issued an Executive Order on January 27, 2017, that made significant changes to the United States refugee resettlement program. This page has information to help you understand how the executive order will affect refugees.

Important Update: Currently, the ban on refugee resettlement and the visa ban has been overturned by the United States courts.

This means, right now, refugees are being allowed to resettle in the United States and individuals from the seven countries: (Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Syria, Libya, Somalia, Yemen) can travel to and from the United States at this time. However, we still recommend individuals from the seven countries do not travel at this time unless it is extremely urgent or an emergency because the situation may change again very soon. If you or someone you know is travelling and is not allowed into the United States, you should contact: airport@refugeerights.org or call your local ACLU. We know this is a difficult time with lots of uncertainty. We will try to post information in refugee languages as soon as we learn about more legal updates.

An Executive Order is an order given by the President that is treated as a law in the United States. Because refugee resettlement is controlled by the President in America, he can make changes to the resettlement program. However, an Executive Order cannot violate the Constitution or laws passed by Congress.

What does the Executive Order mean for refugees?

  • The order suspends refugee resettlement for the next 120 days, with some exceptions for religious minorities. This means no refugees will be allowed to be resettled in the United States for the next 120 days (January 27, 2017- May 28, 2017) with some exceptions for special cases.
  • After 120 days, refugees, including those already approved for resettlement, may be required to go through additional security procedures in order to be eligible to come to the U.S.  For this reason, overseas interview and background checks could be delayed until the new procedures are decided. It may also stop refugee processing for 120 days. This means overseas interviews and background checks may be delayed.
  • The order suspends all refugees from Syria from coming to the United States. This means no refugees from Syria will be allowed to enter the United States until there is a change. There is no set time period for this.
  • The order also bans individuals from certain countries from entering the United States for 90 days. These countries include: Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Syria, Libya, Somalia, Yemen. If you or someone you know is unlawfully detained, you should contact: airport@refugeerights.org or call your local ACLU. After 90 days, the ban may be lifted for some people. If you are from one of these seven countries, you should not travel at this time if possible. If you must travel at this time due to an emergency and you do have a green card, you may be eligible for a national interest waiver but you must apply for this waiver before you travel at your local consulate or embassy. If you do not have a green card, do not travel outside of the United States at this time.
  • The total number of refugees this year to be resettled to the US will be 50,000 instead of 110,000. Since about 32,000 refugees have been admitted so far, it means there should be another 18,000 refugees allowed to enter the U.S. after May 28, 2017.

How will the Executive Order affect me if I am a refugee?

  • If you are already a refugee in the United States, this order will have no effect on your legal status. You still have the same legal status. You can still apply for a Green Card after one year of residence and apply for U.S. citizenship after five years of residence.
  • If you are waiting for a family member to be resettled to the United States or to join you through family reunification, it will probably now take them longer to come to the United States and new procedures may make the process more challenging.  If your family members are from Syria, we do not know when they may be allowed to enter the U.S. as refugees.
  • If your family member is from one of the countries that were banned from entering the United States, they will not be allowed to come to the United States until after the 90-day ban.  They may also be required to follow additional new procedures to apply for a visa to come to the U.S.

What if you need legal help?

If you have immediate legal concerns because of this EO or have refugee family members who are scheduled to come to the United States, you can contact the International Refugee Assistance Project. IRAP can provide you with advice and information, but does not have the power to get anyone into the U.S. who is barred by the Executive Order: info@refugeerights.org

What can you do?

The majority of Americans do welcome refugees and know that you make valuable contributions to our society. You legal status as a refugee is not changed because of the Executive Order.  You are safe and protected by U.S. law.  As a refugee, you have already been through so many hardships which makes you resilient and strong.

Right now, there are four things you can do:

  • Remain hopeful and continue to build your new life in the U.S.  You are the best ambassador for the refugee resettlement program.
  • Refugee status does not expire, but we encourage all refugees to apply for green cards (after 1 year) and apply to become a U.S. Citizen (after 5 years).  You can take the Refugee Center Online’s free online citizenship preparation course to help you get ready for the citizenship exam.
  • If you feel safe, share your story. It is important for other Americans to understand and hear the stories of refugees right now.
  • Help others like you. Find this information in your language below and share it with other refugees in the U.S or people waiting for refugee resettlement in the U.S.

What if you are the victim of discrimination or targeted for a hate crime?

If you are the victim of a crime, you should immediately call the police: 911.

If you believe you or someone you know has been discriminated against because of your religion or group membership, you should report it:

What if you have other questions?

If you have other questions, contact your local Resettlement Agency or email the RCO: info@therefugeecenter.org.

Who is helping and advocating for refugees?

In the United States, there is a national group called Refugee Council USA that is working with policy makers to ensure that the proud American tradition of resettling refugees from around the world continues. Many organizations are a part of this group including all of the national Resettlement Agencies. These organizations, along with the majority of Americans, are all standing for refugees.

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