Military Families and 2017 travel ban

The last 48 hours has been overwhelming. Things have moved very fast indeed when it comes to military families and 2017 travel ban. From the time that President Trump signed an Immigration Executive Order on Friday morning (full text of order) to when it began to be implemented at midnight on Friday night, and then the 48 hours since, there has been a veritable avalanche of information, anecdotes and statements. It is hard to discern and make sense of it all – and I have a law degree, have studied constitutional law and have been a student of US immigration law and process by necessity over the last four years. This Atlantic Article on what the order does or does not do might be helpful if you are looking for background.

While there were no less than four different federal court decisions awarding a temporary injunction on the effect of the EO on deportation of Green card and visa holders, by noon yesterday (Sunday) there was confirmation that individuals, including Green card holders were still being detained and that the Executive order has not been overturned. There are concerns from attorneys from Lawyers for Good Government, CAIR, and ACLU that those still being detained are not being given access to attorneys, including the US citizens caught up in this (many of them children). President Trump defended the ban amid protests and backlash.

Military Families and 2017 travel ban

I shared a relatively hastily written post on our public facebook page on Saturday morning, which at time of writing has been shared over 180 times and seen by well over 25,000 people. My own immigration experience is something I have periodically documented here over the last three years – I am a legal permanent resident, and the spouse of an active duty service member. I have talked about the extent of the process and the invasiveness in the past. In response to concerns, President Trump reiterated the need for “Extreme Vetting.

To put it mildly, this ban is alienating; to have an alien registration number is difficult enough to have to start worrying about green card holders being arbitrarily detained, and deported because they happened to be born in one of 7 countries. So too, citizens of US allies (like Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the UK) who happened to be born in one of the countries (regardless of whether they are dual citizens, or whether they have only one citizenship) were being prevented from flying to the US, or being detained on arrival.

It matters that citizens of America speak up when it isn’t affecting you personally.

In a statement that the State Department released, which was reviewed by The Wall Street Journal, the 90-day visa moratorium extends beyond just citizens of Iraq, Iran, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Libya and Yemen. It also applies to people who originally hail from those countries but are traveling on a passport issued by any other nation, the statement notes. That means Iraqis seeking to enter the U.S. on a British passport, for instance, will be barred, according to a U.S. official. British citizens don’t normally require a visa to enter the U.S.

Theresa May, UK Prime Minister, did not criticize the order, and Australian foreign minister Julie Bishop praised it. The latter was rolled back, however, as Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull directed Bishop to request diplomats ask for the same exemptions as other allies. The New Zealand prime minister was equally concerned about the impact on dual citizens.

BREAKING: 1539h 1/30/2017 Australian Prime minister Turnbull says he’s been assured that dual citizens (Australia and one of the seven countries) will be exempt from the Executive Order. He also claims that Canadian or British dual citizens are also exempt. He still refuses to comment on the order. {Please see State Department statement above – nothing further has been released by them yet.} In another article it says “Mr Turnbull said Australia had secured preferential treatment for citizens who have dual nationality with any of the seven countries included in the executive order, confirmed by Mr Trump’s National Security Adviser General Michael Flynn and Australia’s Ambassador to Washington Joe Hockey.”

Let me be crystal clear, I am 100% in support of the safety and security of the USA, and have a personal vested interest in the safety of US service members; however, there are aspects of this order that were not thought through or consulted upon in the ways that both the US Constitution requires – especially in light of the 5th amendment – due process, which does apply to both legal permanent residents and visa holders – and which long followed regulations demand. Recent decisions on the 6th amendment by US Supreme Court do mean that green card holders (LPRs) do have rights under the 6th amendment not accorded to other types of visa holders (this includes the right to an attorney). At the time of writing on Monday, there have already been 5 federal court rulings handed down with respect to the effect and affects of the Immigration Executive Order and another 30 which have been filed in federal court and will likely be heard this week.

Things are continuing to change rapidly and so i encourage you to seek out reputable sources and double check everything. Bearing in mind what I can do right now and that this is about seeking to be constructive: here is a summary of some resources for military families seeking advice, assistance, and information about immigration matters.

For military families, myself and others involved in the military immigration advocacy community are connecting with active duty service members, veterans, spouses and other dependents impacted by the Immigration Executive Order (signed 1/27/2017). So, if you are connected to any US military dependents from any of the following countries, please feel free to connect them with either Esposas Miltares Hispanas USA Armed Forces or myself: Syria, Iran, Iraq, Somalia, Yemen, Sudan, Libya. We want to make sure they have the support and resources they need.

While we are on the topic of Military Families, Esposas Miltares Hispanas USA Armed Forces – is an amazing organization, founded by Janet Sanchez who provide support to many military connected immigrants, especially spanish speakers.

Military Families and US Immigration

One of the best military resources is the US Navy Immigration and Naturalization page. It explains the process of applying for naturalization as a service member, and the process of legally bringing a non-us born spouse into the US as an active duty service member.

This article from Migration Policy details some striking statistics about the numbers of foreign born and naturalized Americans serving in the US Armed Forces: as at February 2008, this number was upwards of 65,000.

Marriage in overseas commands has its own guidance. USAF AFI 36-2609 provides guidance for USAF service members seeking to marry outside of the USA.

US Service members and Dependents are able to participate in naturalization ceremonies that take place on military bases. For the United States Navy, the Regional Legal Service Office organizes and liaises with USCIS for those service members and dependents who wish to participate in an on base ceremony. For those near San Diego, For further information on attending a military naturalization oath ceremony or applying for naturalization, please call (619) 556-6322. Approximately 8% of active duty Navy service members are foreign-born or naturalized US citizens.

USCIS: United States Citizenship & Immigration Services

These are the pages specific to the USCIS website that deal with military connected immigration and immigrants. You will also find all forms for free on the website. Do not pay anyone for a copy of these forms.


USCIS has established a toll-free military help line, 1-877-CIS-4MIL (1-877-247-4645), exclusively for members of the military and their families. USCIS customer service specialists are available to answer calls Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. (CST), excluding federal holidays. More information can be found here:

Note that while they can answer questions about:

  • Tracking their Form N-400, Application for Naturalization.
  • Notifying USCIS of a new mailing address or duty station.
  • Checking the status of any other application or petition.
  • Bringing a spouse, fiancé, or adopted child to the United States.
  • Obtaining posthumous citizenship for a deceased member of the U.S. Armed Forces.
  • Submitting an application for expedited processing.

They cannot help with I-751 Removal of Conditions. You have to call the main USCIS line for any questions to do with removal of conditions petitions.

Non military organizations that may provide support and assistance

American Families United – a general 501(c)(4) non profit that advocates for those who have had their families separated as a consequence of rulings by USCIS.

CAIR (Council on American-Islamic Relations) – An advocacy organization who can assist those seeking immigration advocacy, support, and information

AILA (American Immigration Lawyers Association) – The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) is the national association of more than 14,000 attorneys and law professors who practice and teach immigration law. AILA member attorneys represent U.S. families seeking permanent residence for close family members, as well as U.S. businesses seeking talent from the global marketplace. AILA members also represent foreign students, entertainers, athletes, and asylum seekers, often on a pro bono basis. Founded in 1946, AILA is a nonpartisan, not-for-profit organization that provides continuing legal education, information, professional services, and expertise through its 39 chapters and over 50 national committees. 



  • If you are a green card holder (lawful permanent resident) outside of the U.S. please reach out to an immigration attorney before you travel back to the U.S.
  • If you do plan to travel back to the US, you should fill out a USCIS G-28 form first that officially appoints an attorney to represent you in immigration situations and have that completed form with you as you board your flight.
  • The refugee program is being halted immediately, for at least 120 days. This will mean that anyone, anywhere in the process, will not move forward. The effort to resettle Syrian refugees in the U.S. is being halted indefinitely.
  • If you are non-citizen, even green card holder (lawful permanent residents), from one of the seven countries named, and you are ALREADY INSIDE the U.S., plan to DELAY all international travel for at least 90 days.
    • It appears that some USCIS offices are not processing anything other than N-400’s and associated forms from the 7 nations. All other applications, including I-130s and I751 look to be on hold. Do call the military help line (number above) and ask questions about your case, however.


  • If you are a non-citizen from one of the seven countries named, and you are OUTSIDE of the U.S., you will face issues at the airport upon attempting to re-enter the US.


If you sign it, you will be giving up your green card.

  • If you are facing an emergency at the airport or are returning to the US in the coming days, do call CAIR National: 202.488.8787
  • Whether you are a citizen or not, do not permit law enforcement to enter your home without a warrant. Even if they have a warrant, you should consult with an attorney before speaking to them. Get copies of business cards of all law enforcement officials. This will help ensure that court orders that have been handed down are followed.

Please feel free to comment with additional immigration related resources for military families and service members!

With the assistance of EMHUSA, please see Military Families and 2017 travel ban: Para este post en español.

For more resources see: Directory Guide to Resources for Military Families and Military Veterans


Military Families and US immigration Resources Military Families and 2017 travel ban