The new travel ban is indefinite and adds Chad, North Korea and Venezuela to the list of affected countries, which already includes Iran, Libya, Syria, Somalia and Yemen.
On September 24, 2017, the Trump administration issued a presidential proclamation entitled “Enhancing Vetting Capabilities and Processes for Detecting Attempted Entry into the United States by Terrorists and Other Public-Safety Threats.” The proclamation was issued to address the September 24 expiration of the president’s second travel ban, which had suspended U.S. entry for nationals of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen, unless they could demonstrate a close familial relationship to a person or employer in the United States.
The new travel ban is indefinite and adds Chad, North Korea and Venezuela to the prior list of affected countries: Iran, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Yemen and Sudan. However, under the new proclamation, travel restrictions for nationals of Sudan have been lifted. The proclamation applies to nationals from the affected countries who are applying for a visa.
Several categories of individuals are exempt from the provisions of the new proclamation:
- Lawful permanent residents
- Dual nationals when the individual has a passport issued by an unaffected country
- Those traveling on diplomatic basis such as the G visa
- Those with valid visas issued prior to the October 18, 2017, effective date
The proclamation provides varying visa protocols for each country depending upon that country’s compliance with required vetting procedures as determined by the Department of State and Department of Homeland Security (DHS). For countries added in the new travel ban, specific conditions are included:
- Chad: Suspends the entry of immigrants and temporary visitors on business or tourist visas (B-1/B-2)
- North Korea: Suspends the entry of all immigrants and nonimmigrants
- Venezuela: Suspends the entry of certain government officials and their immediate family members on business or tourist visas (B-1/B-2)
Countries impacted by the administration’s prior travel ban, which are also included in the president’s new proclamation, are subject to the following conditions beginning on October 18, 2017:
- Iran: Suspends the entry of immigrants and all nonimmigrants, except F (student), M (vocational student) and J (exchange visitor) visas, though they will be subject to enhanced screening and vetting requirements
- Libya: Suspends the entry of immigrants and temporary visitors on business or tourist visas (B-1/B-2)
- Somalia: Suspends the entry of immigrants and requires enhanced screening and vetting of all nonimmigrants
- Syria: Suspends the entry of all immigrants and nonimmigrants
- Yemen: Suspends the entry of immigrants and temporary visitors on business or tourist visas (B-1/B-2)
- Iraq: Requires enhanced screening of all individuals seeking to enter the United States
The State Department has announced that it will not cancel any existing visa application appointments for nationals of Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Syria, Venezuela, Yemen and Somalia. It will instead make a determination in the course of the visa interview whether the applicant is otherwise eligible for a visa under the terms of the proclamation. The State Department also confirms that it will not revoke visas that are currently issued, or will be issued before October 18, 2017. The State Department and DHS have also confirmed that the proclamation will not affect any foreign national who has been granted advance parole, confirming that advance parole documents remain valid under the new proclamation.
Section 3 of the proclamation provides a waiver of all the new suspension and visa restrictions under the following circumstances:
- When denying entry would cause the foreign national undue hardship and their entry would not pose a threat to national security or public safety and would be in the national interest; and
- On a case-by-case basis, waivers may be granted in individual circumstances such as:
- Those who were previously admitted to the United States and are now outside the United States;
- Those with established significant contacts in the United States, but who are currently outside the United States on the effective date;
- Those seeking to enter the United States for significant business or professional obligations;
- Those seeking to visit or reside with a close family member and whose denial would cause undue hardship;
- Those who are an infant, a young child, an adoptee or in need of urgent medical care or those with special circumstances;
- Those employed by the U.S. government and those traveling with purposes related to business with the U.S. government or on behalf of certain international organizations.
It should also be noted that no changes were made to the restrictions already affecting the United States refugee program. The 120-day halt of the program, which began on March 16, 2017, continues. It is likely that additional guidance will be forthcoming from DHS and the Department of State. It is also likely that lawsuits will be filed challenging the new proclamation. And, as a result of the issuance of the new proclamation, the Supreme Court removed the prior travel ban case from its oral arguments docket and has requested briefings from the parties on how this new proclamation affects the case.
Anyone who is among the affected categories of travelers or visa applicants should contact an immigration attorney prior to undertaking any travel or visa application processes. Duane Morris Immigration attorneys will continue to provide updates on these travel restrictions as they become available.
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