United States: President Trump Issues Indefinite Travel Ban: What Employers And Foreign Nationals Need To Know

On September 24, 2017, President Trump issued a Presidential Proclamation which changes the contours of who is subject to a ban on travel to the United States. The proclamation, which takes full effect on October 18, 2017, adds Chad, North Korea, and certain individuals from Venezuela to the list of previously barred countries, while removing Sudan. Travel remains restricted for many citizens of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen. This travel ban, unlike its predecessors, is valid indefinitely.

Which Countries Are Subject and Why?

The proclamation follows a worldwide review of security and information-sharing practices and indicates that travel was restricted for countries with insufficient identity management protocol or conditions within the country that pose a security or safety risk to the U.S. The restrictions apply to nationals of 8 countries, unless exempt or are granted a waiver. The restrictions distinguish between nonimmigrant visas for those traveling on temporary visas as visitors, students, and workers and immigrant visas for those who travel and become lawful permanent residents (green card holders) upon entry. Entry on an immigrant visa is suspended for all countries on the new list except Venezuela.

Specifically, the travel restrictions, from least restrictive to most restrictive, are as follows:

Country Nonimmigrant (Temporary) Visas Immigrant Visas
Venezuela B-1, B-2 or B-1/B-2 visas for certain Government officials and their immediate families suspended. All other visa categories remain available. Immigrant visas still permitted
Somalia All nonimmigrant visa categories, including B-1 and B-2, remain available but will be subject to additional scrutiny. Immigrant visa issuance suspended
Chad
Libya
Yemen
B-1, B-2 or B-1/B-2 visas suspended; all other visa categories remain available Immigrant visa issuance suspended
Iran F, M and J visas for students and exchange visitors are still permitted subject to enhanced screening. All other nonimmigrant visas categories are suspended. Immigrant visa issuance suspended
Syria
North Korea
All nonimmigrant visas are suspended Immigrant visa issuance suspended

There are no restrictions on visa issuance for nationals of Iraq and Sudan under this proclamation, although applicants will likely be subject to additional scrutiny.

Scope of the Proclamation

Certain nationals of the banned countries are outside the scope of the new proclamation. For example, existing nonimmigrant and immigrant visas will remain valid and such visas will not be revoked according to the statement. Similarly, nationals of the restricted countries who are physically in the U.S. when the new restrictions take effect are not subject. Other individuals who are exempt include:

  • U.S. green card holders
  • Dual nationals traveling on a passport not subject to the ban
  • Diplomats and travelers on diplomatic-type visas, such as C-2, G-1, G-2
  • Those issued an official travel document, including a transportation letter, boarding foil, or Advance Parole document, that is valid on the effective date
  • An individual already granted asylum, admitted refugees, or anyone granted withholding of removal, advance parole or protection under CAT

Waivers

There are also a number of articulated ground for waivers, however, all requests must prove the individual's entry does not pose a public safety threat to the U.S.; the waiver is in the national interest; and the individual will face undue hardship if not allowed to enter the U.S. Practically, this may be a high bar for most to achieve. The proclamation indicates a waiver may be appropriate in a few circumstances, for example, if the traveler is an infant, adoptee or young child, or requires urgent medical care. Canadian permanent residents who apply for a visa in Canada may also be considered for a waiver and those who have previously established significant contacts with the United States and are abroad for work, study or other lawful activity may be considered for a waiver.

Additional Notes

The restrictions imposed by the President's previous travel ban, adopted by Executive Order on March 6, 2017, remain in place until October 18, 2017. This order suspends travel for nationals of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen who cannot show a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the U.S. As of October 18th, restricted travelers will no longer be eligible for visas based solely on a bona fide relationship and will require a waiver.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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