Although the public response to President Trump’s revised travel ban has been more muted than the outcry engendered by his earlier executive order, many employers are still wary about the impact it will have on business travel.
The new directive—which takes effect March 16—was narrowed from the prior version to address legal questions raised in federal court. It restricts entry into the U.S. by people from six predominantly Muslim countries for 90 days, but removes Iraq from the list of nations subject to the ban. The executive order also exempts permanent residents and current visa holders, and drops language offering preferential status to persecuted religious minorities.
Despite being slightly watered down, the new travel ban is still expansive enough to raise concerns among employers, according to a survey from the Association of Corporate Travel Executives.
The association emailed the survey to 400 individuals responsible for corporate travel programs around the globe on March 6, the same day the White House released the revised travel ban. Within a day, ACTE received 125 responses from business travel managers, many of whom are located in Europe and Asia.
Despite lingering suspicions about the impact of the ban, most of the survey respondents (91 percent) said their company had not canceled meetings in the U.S. However, close to half (45 percent) said the new directive will pose travel difficulties for their company.
It remains to be seen whether the courts will once again step in to suspend or revise the new executive order. A federal judge in Hawaii has agreed to hear the state's request for a temporary block on the president’s directive a day before the order is set to go into effect.
In the meantime, immigration attorneys are urging employers to exercise caution. "At this time, we are advising clients to be exceedingly careful about allowing employees to leave the U.S. if they are traveling with a passport from one of those countries," said Jeffrey Gorsky, a senior counsel at San Francisco-based immigration firm Berry, Appleman & Leiden. "The waiver process is new, and we have seen how things can change quickly in this space."
For employees who do have to travel, Gorsky is advising them to have back-up travel plans. "At a minimum, they need to be able to have a place to go if they aren’t able to return to the U.S. We are also working with individuals to prepare them to explain the purpose of their trip outside the country and, in particular, any prior travel to one of the designated countries," he told Bloomberg BNA.
Gorsky also warns that these employees should be prepared for "anything and everything" given the fervor with which the Trump administration is seeking to exert control over the immigration process. "Consular officers will ask about travel, employment, family ties, and anything else that could bear on eligibility or security risks. We are also working with individuals and companies on how to handle searches of social media sites and electronic devices," he added.
Bloomberg BNA’s International HR Decision Support Network provides resources, including labor and employment law primers on more than 70 countries, to help you stay compliant and develop policies for your international operations. Start your free trial today.
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