Multiple news outlets have reported that the Department of Homeland Security is planning to roll out new travel restrictions on up to nine countries, replacing the travel ban executive order that is currently tied up in litigation.

The new rules are being finalized and could be implemented as early as Sunday, when the travel ban is set to expire. The restrictions are reportedly based on a DHS review of all countries and whether they comply with U.S. demands, such as issuance of electronic passports and screening of travelers for potential threats.

Key points:

  • It is not clear at this time which countries are on the list or what kind of travel restrictions will be placed on them, but restrictions will vary depending on the country and could range from a ban on U.S. travel to facing higher scrutiny when applying for a U.S. visa.
  • Inclusion on the list will be based on the potential security threat but will also take into consideration foreign policy implications.
  • The restrictions will be applied for an indefinite period of time, and could change based on periodic review of security protocols of individual countries.

Background: In January President Trump issued an executive order banning nationals of seven countries – Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen – from traveling to the U.S., as well as all refugees. A revised travel ban issued in March that removed Iraq from the list and added exclusions remains under legal challenge and the Supreme Court is set to hear arguments on its constitutionality on Oct. 10.

The travel ban was to be in effect for 90 days during which time DHS was to conduct a worldwide review of all countries’ passports and travel screening practices. According to the Wall Street Journal, 17 countries were initially found to be “inadequate” in complying with U.S. security demands, and over 30 countries were “at risk” of not complying. About half of the 17 countries have since improved security measures to avoid being put on the final list of countries to face new restrictions.

BAL Analysis: The new restrictions are expected to cover a broader number of countries than the six under the travel ban but impose more specific restrictions than a blanket ban, which could provide a stronger defense to constitutional challenge.