On the heels of consular closings and additional travel restrictions aimed at preventing the spread of the COVID-19, the Trump administration announced on Feb. 29, 2020, it will deny entry to all foreign nationals who were physically present in the Islamic Republic of Iran within 14 days prior to their attempted entry in the United States. The decision, announced via Presidential Proclamation 9992, follows Presidential Proclamation 9984, issued on Jan. 31, 2020, which restricts entry to foreign nationals from China. The ban is effective at 5:00 p.m. EST on March 2, 2020, and will remain in effect indefinitely at the president’s discretion; subject to review and recommendation by the secretary of Health and Human Services.
This ban does not apply to the following individuals:
- Lawful permanent residents (green card holders);
- Spouses of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents;
- The parent or legal guardian of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident who is unmarried and under the age of 21;
- The siblings of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents, provided both are unmarried and under the age of 21;
- The child, foster child, prospective adoptee or ward of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident;
- Crew members traveling as air or sea crew;
- Any foreign national traveling at the invitation of the U.S. government to assist with containing or mitigating the coronavirus;
- Foreign nationals holding diplomatic visas, including dependents of such individuals holding derivative visas;
- Holders of E-1 Visa Status;
- Foreign nationals the CDC has determined would not pose a significant risk to the U.S.;
- Foreign nationals whose entry is determined to be in the national interest or further important law enforcement objectives; and
- Members of the U.S. Armed Forces, as well as their spouses and children.
Therefore, the ban applies to any foreign nationals holding nonimmigrant visas such as H, L, and O, among others, who have traveled to Iran since Feb. 17, 2020.
The order likewise amends Proclamation 9984 to exempt foreign nationals 1) in E-1 visa status; and 2) whose travel falls within the scope of section 11 of the United Nations Headquarters Agreement. Additionally, it amends the review and termination procedure for 9984 and “any other proclamation suspending or limiting the entry of foreign nationals into the United States as immigrants or nonimmigrants because of the threat posed by the virus.” Where the proclamation was previously subject to recommendation by the secretary of Health and Human Services to continue, modify, or terminate the ban every 15 days, the secretary shall now offer their recommendation to the president “on the first and fifteenth day of each calendar month.” A third amendment to 9984 provides that the secretary of Homeland Security may establish standards and procedures to implement the ban at all ports of entry.