Andrew Fisher manages the financial lives of clients who are either Americans living abroad or foreign nationals living in the U.S., and both are equally distressed by President Trump’s proclamation from last week, which ordered the suspension of some immigration from Syria, Yemen, Sudan, Somalia, Iraq, Iran and Libya.

“It’s an attack on people whose lives cross borders,” said Fisher, president and chief investment officer of Worldview Wealth Advisors, a firm that specializes in serving international clients. “It’s a step away from globalization.”

One of Fisher’s clients is Spanish and holds a green card, works for a large multinational company and lives in the U.K. He was initially upset by Britain’s exit from the European Union and is now concerned that his ability to jet-set internationally could be impeded by Trump’s decision.

“He worries that this new executive order will interfere with his ability to live and work in different places around the world,” Fisher told Financial Advisor. Many Americans and groups throughout the world have attacked the order, believing its purpose and underlying motive is to ban people of the Islamic faith in Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States.

One issue some wealthy individuals have raised is how the order might affect them if they hold multiple passports.

“Friends and colleagues from various countries from Colombia to Germany are concerned that they could face stricter rules for accessing the U.S. at some point as Trump expands immigration controls,” said Lief Simon, a real estate investor abroad who publishes Live and Invest Overseas.

According to the U.S. State Department and the Department of Homeland Security, as long as a person holds a passport from an unrestricted country, she will be allowed to travel to the U.S., but others may experience challenges. “Dual citizens with a passport from one of these banned countries could be flagged and potentially barred from entering the U.S.,” said Fisher.

Although none of Fisher’s clients are originally from any Middle Eastern countries named in Trump’s order, most are highly paid knowledge workers born abroad in places like Europe, China and India and currently are employed in the U.S.

“The biggest risk in being caught up and affected by this is access to wealth and assets and secondly to control those assets, whether it’s real estate income, checking accounts or investment accounts,” Fisher said.

Many foreign nationals are concerned that under Trump's order, their status in the U.S. could be lowered from a legal resident to a permanent or temporary resident, or to a non resident who has no legal rights in the U.S.

“This could affect their ability to physically log in to their brokerage accounts to make trades,” said Fisher. “We are already living in a world where financial institutions are heavily averse to dealing with cross-border clients situations in either direction. We often see wirehouses electing not to serve international clients, so perhaps it’s not that slippery a slope to imagine a passport becoming the underlying factor.”

According to Fisher, when these institutions become aware of a foreign address or connection to one of these targeted countries, it only raises the likelihood that the accounts are flagged as higher risk.

“I don’t think there’s anything in these orders that puts my clients' assets that are in their names at risk,” said Fisher. “There’s a potential that they could lose their assets, but it’s low. It comes down to worry about the grey areas and the unknown.”

When his clients call or e-mail with their concerns, Fisher tries to redirect them to focus on what the executive order is trying to accomplish. “There’s nothing in these announcements that appear to restrict the rights of U.S. citizens or foreign nationals to access any assets they own in the U.S.,” he says.
 

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