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Saturday, January 28, 2017

U.S. companies scramble to cope with seven-country immigration ban

• The order bars the entry of foreign nationals from certain countries for 90 days. While no countries are specifically named in the order, it refers to a statute that would apply to seven Muslim-majority nations: Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia, Yemen and Iraq.  • There is an exception for certain types of visas, including for diplomats and the United Nations. The temporary halt is aimed at giving the Department of Homeland Security, the State Department and the Director of National Intelligence time to determine what information is needed from each country to ensure that visas are not issued to individuals posing a national security threat.  CHANGES TO SCREENING FOR IMMIGRATION PROGRAMS  • The order calls for a review to create a single process for screening people entering the country, which could include holding more in-person interviews, searches of an expanded database of identity documents or longer application forms.  • The order suspends the Visa Interview Waiver Program, which allows consular officers to exempt some applicants from face-to-face interviews if they are seeking to renew their temporary visas within a year of expiration.  RESTRICTING REFUGEES  • The order calls for the temporary halt of all refugee admissions for four months so the government can study the process and determine if additional checks are necessary, although there will be case-by-case exceptions.  • The order also implemented a blanket ban of all Syrian refugees until "sufficient changes" have been made to the refugee program, without giving more details.  • After the suspension is lifted, the government will give priority to applicants that are suffering religious-based prosecution, but only if they are minorities in their country. Once refugee admissions resume, fewer will be allowed. The 2017 cap was set at 50,000 people, compared to 85,000 designated by President Obama for 2016.  COMPLETING THE "BIOMETRIC ENTRY-EXIT TRACKING SYSTEM"  • The system is aimed at tracking foreign visitors' arrival and departure using information like finger prints. Former President Barack Obama's administration had aimed to start implementing biometric exit checks at the country's largest airports by 2018. (Reporting by Mica Rosenberg) ================================== Sat Jan 28, 2017 | 4:49 PM EST Google CEO Sundar Pichai speaks on stage during a Google event in Delhi, India January 4, 2017. Reuters/Cathal McNaughton U.S. companies scramble to cope with seven-country U.S. companies scrambled on Saturday to cope with the fallout from President Trump's executive order on immigration, with Google urgently calling back employees from overseas and companies rushing to provide legal advice and assistance. Trump's order bars citizens of seven countries from entering the United States even if they hold valid visas or permanent residence permits, a move that caught many companies off-guard. Google Chief Executive Sundar Pichai said in an email to staff that more than 100 Google employees were affected by the order, according to a Google executive. One Google employee of Iranian nationality with legal U.S. residency made it back to the United States just hours before the order took effect, the executive said. "We're concerned about the impact of this order and any proposals that could impose restrictions on Googlers and their families, or that could create barriers to bringing great talent to the U.S.," Google, part of Alphabet Inc, said in a statement. "We'll continue to make our views on these issues known to leaders in Washington and elsewhere." Microsoft President Brad Smith said in a company-wide email posted on LinkedIn that 76 company employees were citizens of the seven countries in question and held U.S. work visas, and thus were directly affected by the order. ADVERTISEMENT . He said the company had not determined how many people with green cards, or permanent residence status, might be affected. "As a company, Microsoft believes in a strong and balanced high-skilled immigration system," Smith said in the email. "We also believe in broader immigration opportunities, like the protections for talented and law-abiding young people under the Deferred Access for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Program, often called "Dreamers." Smith also said: "We believe in the importance of protecting legitimate and law-abiding refugees whose very lives may be at stake in immigration proceedings." Facebook had no comment beyond a Friday blog post from CEO Mark Zuckerberg, in which he said he was "concerned" about the order and voiced support for immigrants. "The executive order on immigration is immoral and antithetical to our values. It's also deeply flawed as a matter of policy and will undermine our economy and our security in the long term," Aaron Levie, co-founder and CEO, of cloud-based file-storage group Box, said in a company email. (Reporting by Joseph Menn; Writing by Jonathan Weber; Editing by Alan Crosby) =================

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