Frequently Asked Questions on Changes to Immigration Benefits


Here are some general frequently asked questions about resources that can assist you in understanding and responding to recent and future changes to immigration benefits.

Where can I find information from NAFSA on the Executive Order that bars entry to the United States of individuals from one of seven countries?

Enforcement of the January 27, 2017 Executive Order 13769 90-day travel bar on Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen is currently stopped nationwide by a temporary restraining order issued by the Ninth Circuit. On March 6, 2017, President Trump signed a new executive order entitled "Protecting the Nation from Terrorist Entry into the United States." The order includes a revised entry ban on nationals of 6 countries (Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen). The new order revokes and replaces Executive Order 13769 in its entirety, effective March 16, 2017. The administration hopes that the new order will address the legal challenges that barred enforcement of the prior 90-day entry bar on citizens of the same six countries plus Iraq, that had been instituted by Executive Order 13769 before its enforcement was enjoined by court order in February.

Read NAFSA's Travel Advisory for Nationals of Certain Countries Pursuant to Executive Order, which contains a detailed description of the March 6, 2017 Executive Order that will suspend entry into the United States of certain citizens from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen for 90 days, effective March 16, 2017. The NAFSA Advisory also discusses several important exemptions and exceptions, and the possibility of waivers of the entry bar.

Access the NAFSA Travel Advisory at We will keep the advisory updated as the fluid situation evolves.

What is an executive order?

"Executive orders, presidential memoranda, and proclamations are used extensively by Presidents to achieve policy goals, set uniform standards for managing the executive branch, or outline a policy view intended to influence the behavior of private citizens. The U.S. Constitution does not define these presidential instruments and does not explicitly vest the President with the authority to issue them. Nonetheless, such orders are accepted as an inherent aspect of presidential power. Moreover, if they are based on appropriate authority, they have the force and effect of law." [From Congressional Research Service Report, Executive Orders: Issuance, Modification, and Revocation].

To find out more about executive actions and other kinds of law and policy, take a look at NAFSA's web page, Practical Immigration Concepts in a Time of Change.

How will NAFSA make us aware of orders and directives put forth by the current administration?

The orders and directives that have been and will be published are complicated. NAFSA will generally approach these in the following ways:

  • NAFSA will make the text of the order or directive available as soon as it receives it, by posting a link to the text:
  • NAFSA will further summarize and analyze the text of the final order or directive, and release the following:
    • A bullet-point summary of key elements, within 24 hours
    • Incorporate updates, and make clarifications and revisions as needed on an on-going basis

What can we do to help in the process of understanding the mechanics of these orders and directives?

First, always carefully read the original text of the source of authority. Sometimes these texts incorporate by reference other sources of authority. Read those too. Next, read NAFSA's summaries and analyses.

While reading, take notes on the core questions of who, what, where, when, and how? As you do, consider implications for:

  • You, in your roles: immigration adviser, school employee, counselor;
  • Your institution: as employer, as education provider, as a legal entity (e.g., for-profit, non-profit, state entity);
  • Your student or scholar: immigration impact, decision-making, personal and family concerns, concerns as a student or employee.

NAFSA will collect your questions and insights regarding the order or directive in the following ways:

  • NAFSA members are encouraged to submit their illustrative cases, insights, and questions to NAFSA IssueNet: Report an Issue, at
  • NAFSA will also monitor the International Student Advising Network and International Scholar Advising Network discussion forums.
  • Although NAFSA is not resourced or authorized to act as a legal advocate for specific individuals, NAFSA will use your submissions and postings to produce its practice advisories and to inform its government liaison activity.

What can I do for a student or scholar who might be affected by an Executive Order?

  • Gather as many facts about the situation as possible, within the scope of your authority as an employee of your institution
  • Identify what you might be able to do within the scope of your role at your institution, and refer individuals with issues, questions, or concerns that are beyond the scope of your role or ability to appropriate helpers.
  • Remember that you cannot dispense legal advice - know when to encourage someone to seek legal advice from an experienced attorney
  • Notify stakeholders on your campus about the situation, through your normal supervisory chain
  • Keep up to date by reading NAFSA advisories posted at

What can I do to help advocate for policies that lead to a more welcoming, globally engaged, and educated United States?

Advocacy Day. Many NAFSAns will join us at Advocacy Day on March 13-14, 2017. After a day of training and strategizing, they will head to Capitol Hill with all the tools they need to educate Congress on how international education impacts their state and district and why we need a more globally engaged, welcoming, and educated United States. Personal meetings have been scheduled with their elected officials and their staff in both the Senate and House of Representatives. Registration for Advocacy Day is now closed.

Connecting Our World. Also, register for to raise your voice in support of international education and a more globally engaged and welcoming United States. We advocate for policies that foster a more peaceful world, result in a commonsense immigration process, encourage enlightened global engagement, and sustain an informed civic culture through international education.