Yesterday, President Donald Trump announced new travel restrictions for certain nationals of seven countries that have refused to comply with the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) new information-sharing requirements. These countries are Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Syria, Venezuela, and Yemen. The restrictions for these countries will be effective on October 18, 2017. The restrictions are narrower than those included in the March 6 Executive Order, “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States,” but are likely to impact any businesses, schools, or individuals connected to these seven countries. Details regarding which types of applicants for entry will be excluded are below.
The announcement is a follow-up to certain mandates in President Trump’s March 6 order. Under that order, DHS was required to determine what “additional information” is needed from all countries to more closely review applicants for U.S. entry against U.S. safety priorities. DHS was to create a “set of criteria” that all other governments would be required to comply with, or else risk restrictions on U.S. visa issuance and admission to the U.S. for their nationals.
DHS reported its findings to the President in July and issued to all governments worldwide its new list of identity-management and information-sharing requirements. Foreign governments were allowed a 50-day “engagement period” to work with DHS to bring their policies and systems into compliance with the new requirements. On September 15, DHS reported back to the White House its findings regarding each country’s “capacity, ability, and willingness to cooperate,” as well as risk factors such as known terrorist presence within the state. Based on the agency’s and his own assessment, President Trump announced travel restrictions against the seven countries listed above.
Who is Impacted?
President Trump states in the Proclamation that he has adopted “a more tailored approach” in applying entry restrictions, as compared with the original travel restrictions announced by executive order in January 2017, which were subsequently challenged in Federal Court and remain under the court’s scrutiny. Individuals in the following categories will be banned from entry, subject to later-described exceptions:
- Chad and Yemen: Non-exempt nationals of Chad and Yemen who seek to enter as immigrants and as B-1/B-2 visitor visa holders will not be admitted. Although the governments of Chad and Yemen have shown willingness to cooperate with the U.S., President Trump states, these governments remain noncompliant and present a risk due to known terrorist presence in these countries.
- Iran: All non-exempt Iranian nationals will be banned except those with valid F and M student visas or J exchange visitor visas. Student and exchange visa holders will be subject to higher scrutiny.
- North Korea and Syria: All non-exempt North Korean and Syrian nationals will be banned from entry.
- Venezuela: President Trump states that the Venezuelan government has taken steps to comply with the new U.S. requirements, but is uncooperative on certain points. However, he states, there are “alternative sources” by which the U.S. government can obtain the information needed to adequately screen Venezuelan applicants. Therefore, restrictions on entry will apply only to Venezuelan government officials responsible for the lack of cooperation with the new requirements — those employed with the Ministry of the Popular Power for Interior, Justice and Peace; the Administrative Service of Identification, Migration and Immigration; the Scientific, Penal and Criminal Investigation Service Corps; the Bolivarian National Intelligence Service; and the Ministry of the Popular Power for Foreign Relations. The ban will also apply to the immediate family members of such government officials, if seeking to enter on B-1/B-2 visitor visas.
- Somalia: Non-exempt nationals of Somalia seeking to enter as immigrants will be suspended, and temporary visa applicants will be subject to higher scrutiny to assess for ties to terrorist organizations.
Exceptions from Restrictions:
The bans on entry for nationals of these countries will not apply to:
- U.S. permanent residents;
- Anyone admitted to the U.S. or paroled into the U.S. after the ban goes into effect;
- Applicants who have a non-visa entry document such as a boarding foil, advance parole document, or transportation letter providing individual permission for entry;
- Dual nationals seeking to enter with their passport from a non-named nation;
- Diplomatic visa holders; and
- Those who have been granted asylum status, withholding of removal, advance parole, or protection under the Convention Against Torture, or who have already been granted entry as refugees.
Individual Waiver Applications Considered
In addition, individual waivers of the restrictions may be granted by Customs and Border Protection inspecting officers on a case-by-case basis where the applicant effectively shows that 1) he or she would experience undue hardship due to the restriction, 2) he or she does not pose a security threat, and 3) his or her entry is in the national interest.
Duration of Restrictions
The Proclamation requires DHS to re-review these countries’ compliance status and other related security factors within 180 days, and every 180 days thereafter, and to recommend the continuance, modification or discontinuance of the restrictions. In addition, DHS may submit at any other time recommendations for restrictions on addition countries found to be out of compliance or termination of restrictions if a country is found to come into compliance.
- Individuals from the 7 countries listed in the Proclamation should plan ahead for international travel on or after October 18. Those who may be subject to the ban should defer non-essential travel to the United States and consult with legal counsel prior to engaging in international travel during this period. We also advise nationals of the designated countries who fall under an exception to the ban to consult with legal counsel prior to engaging in international travel. They should anticipate scrutiny at the border from Customs and Border Protection Officers and potential placement in “secondary inspection” so that federal agents can further question them.
- Lawful Permanent Residents are reminded not to relinquish or abandon their permanent resident status during any detention by CBP officers. They should insist on speaking with an immigration attorney and appearing before an immigration judge if they are asked to relinquish their permanent residency.
- Holders of U.S. temporary visas are reminded to comply with the terms of their visas at all times and to be prepared to demonstrate continued compliance when requesting re-entry or other immigration benefits inside the United States, such as extension of work authorization, change or extension of status, or adjustment of status to lawful permanent residency.
- Employers and individuals are reminded that CBP officers hold significant power when admitting individuals at the border. This power includes the ability to detain individuals, to search their belongings and possessions (including electronic devices), and to deny the right to counsel.
- No details have been released from other agencies to detail how these restrictions will impact already issued visas and stateside applications for immigration benefits, such as requests for advance parole or adjustment of status to lawful permanent residency.
- As with prior travel restrictions, the announced changes may be challenged in Federal Court.