President Trump Proclaims a New, More Rigorous Travel Ban

Sunday evening, President Trump announced a new set of travel restrictions. This new travel ban is meant to be ‘larger, tougher, more specific’ than the original travel ban, which lapsed on Sunday (September 24th) and is currently being reviewed by the Supreme Court. The new travel ban, set to go into effect on Wednesday October 18, will impose permanent travel restrictions on most citizens from seven countries – Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Chad, and North Korea. In addition, the travel ban will impose travel restrictions or heightened scrutiny on citizens of Iraq and certain groups of people from Venezuela. Nationals of Sudan are no longer subject to travel restrictions.

Rationale for the New Travel Restrictions

The new policy is the result of the Department of Homeland Security’s review of security risks posed by each of the seven designated countries, specifically, the adequacy of their identity-management protocols and information-sharing practices with law enforcement agencies in the United States. According to government officials, several countries who did not initially meet the minimum standards required by the United States took the necessary steps to  become compliant. Under this new policy, travel limitations and restrictions are conditional and will be imposed until such time as the designated countries take action to comply and improve their information-sharing practices.

Country Specific Restrictions

Unlike President Trump’s previous travel ban, the new restrictions apply limitations and restrictions tailored to individual countries. Effective October 18, most citizens of the seven designated countries will be permanently barred from immigrating to the United States and will be restricted from entering the United States for work, study or vacation.

SYRIA AND NORTH KOREA — According to the administration, Syria and North Korea failed to cooperate with the United States, and therefore are subject to the most severe restrictions, all citizens of these countries will be denied visas (immigrant and non-immigrant) to enter the United States starting October 18.

CHAD, LIBYA AND YEMEN — Due to their inadequacy to identify and screen their travelers, most citizens from Chad, Libya, and Yemen will not be allowed to immigrate or visit (B-1/B-2 visas) the United States.

SOMALIA — The country barely met the security standard, and therefore its citizens will continue to be banned from immigrating to the United States and heightened scrutiny will be imposed for all non-immigrant visas.

IRAN — Iranian officials were uncooperative and a broader travel ban will be imposed on it’s citizens, with an exception to allow students and exchange visitors (F, M and J visas) to come to the United States. Under the proclamation, Iranian citizens will no longer be eligible to apply for H-1B visa stamps or immigrant visas. It is unclear at this time if Iranian citizens will continue to be eligible to change status (e.g. to an H-1B or to permanent residency) once they are in the United States on an F, M, or J visa.

Additional Restrictions and Scrutiny

VENEZUELA — Government officials of Venezuela , involved in the screening and vetting of travelers, and the families of those officials, are restricted from traveling to the United States. Business and tourist (B1/B-2) visas will not be granted to these individuals. Other Venezuelan nationals not affiliated with the government are not subject to travel restrictions, however they should expect additional scrutiny when applying for a visa.

IRAQ — Due to the cooperative relationship of the Iraqi government with the United States in combating the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the Secretary of Homeland Security determined that restrictions and limitations under the Presidential proclamation will not be imposed, but citizens of Iraq who seek entry to the United States will be subject to heightened scrutiny when applying for a visa.

Key Exceptions to the Above Restrictions

The above travel restrictions do not apply to nationals of the above countries in the following situations:

  • If the individual is a legal permanent resident of the U.S.;
  • If the individual is a dual national of a non-restricted country;
  • If the individual is a permanent resident of Canada and applies for a visa within Canada;
  • If the individual is paroled into the U.S.;
  • If the individual has a previous grant of asylum issued by the U.S. government; or
  • If the individual currently holds a valid visa (however these visas may not be extended or renewed).

Additionally, a waiver to the travel restriction may be applied for if the applicant can prove the following:

  • Denying entry would cause undue hardship;
  • Entry would not pose a threat to national security; and
  • Entry would be in the national interest.

The availability of a waiver should be evaluated by EIG on a case-by-case basis.

As further information is released by government officials on the implementation of these travel restrictions we will share updates with you. EIG attorneys will be holding a webinar on Wednesday September 27, to discuss the scope of the new travel ban and its impact on foreign nationals. Click here to register.