Travel Ban Extended to Six Additional Countries

Travel Ban Extended to Six Additional Countries

23:33 05 February in News Updates

Trump Administration Expands Travel Restrictions to Include Nationals of Six More Countries

On January 31, 2020, President Trump issued a Presidential Proclamation expanding what has become known as Travel Ban 3.0 to include foreign nationals of the following six countries:  Burma (Myanmar), Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Nigeria, Sudan, and Tanzania.    This represents an expansion of the third version of a travel ban introduced in September of 2017, which was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of Trump v. Hawaii.    This brings the total number of countries impacted by the ban to 13.

Effective Date

The effective date of the expansion is February 21, 2020 at 12:01AM EST.

Unless an exemption applies or the individual is eligible for a waiver, the travel restrictions apply to foreign nationals of the designated countries who: 

  • Are outside the U.S. on the applicable effective date (February 21, 2020);
  • Do not have a valid visa on the applicable effective date; and
  • Do not qualify for a reinstated visa or other travel document that was revoked between January 27, 2017 and March 16, 2017 under Presidential Executive Order 13769.

Nationalities impacted

Only individuals seeking immigrant (permanent) visas are impacted.   For example, applicants who would otherwise be eligible to immigrate to the U.S. based on approved I-130 immigrant petitions by a close family member or an I-140 immigrant petitions by an employer.    In the cases of Sudanese and Tanzanian citizens, the restriction is limited to immigrants selected under the Diversity Visa (lottery) program.

Burma (Myanmar): Suspends the entry pursuant to Immigrant Visas only, except for Special Immigrants who provided assistance to the U.S. government

Eritrea:  Suspends the entry pursuant to Immigrant Visas only, except for Special Immigrants who provided assistance to the U.S. government

Kyrgyzstan:  Suspends the entry pursuant to Immigrant Visas only, except for Special Immigrants who provided assistance to the U.S. government

Nigeria:  Suspends the entry pursuant to Immigrant Visas only, except for Special Immigrants who provided assistance to the U.S. government

Sudan:  Suspends the entry pursuant toImmigrant Visas based on the Diversity Visa program only

Tanzania:  Suspends the entry pursuant to Immigrant Visas based on the Diversity Visa program only.

Nonimmigrants from above nationalities are NOT impacted

There is no travel restriction for nonimmigrants from Burma (Myanmar), Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Nigeria, Sudan, or Tanzania.   For example, nationals of these countries seeking entry to the U.S. as B-2 visitors, F-1 students, H-1B specialty occupation workers, L-1 intracompany transfers, O-1 individuals of extraordinary ability, etc. are not impacted by the proclamation.

Exemptions from the travel restrictions

  • The travel restrictions in the proclamation do NOT apply to:
  • Lawful Permanent Resident (U.S. green card holders)
  • Foreign nationals who are admitted to or paroled into the U.S. on or after the applicable effective date
  • Foreign nationals who have a document other than a visa (e.g., transportation letter, boarding foil, advance parole document) valid on the applicable effective date or issued on any date thereafter
  • Dual nationals of a designated country who are traveling on a passport issued by a non-designated country  (For example, a dual Nigerian-Canadian citizen who obtains a U.S. immigrant visa and is traveling to the U.S. on a Canadian passport)
  • Foreign nationals traveling on a diplomatic visas, NATO visas, C-2/U.N. visas, or G-1, G-2, G-3, or G-4 visa
  • Foreign nationals who have been granted asylum in the U.S., refugees who have been admitted to the U.S.; or individuals who have been granted withholding of removal, advance parole, or protection under the Convention Against Torture

Waivers

A waiver may be granted if a foreign national demonstrates to the consular officer’s or CBP official’s satisfaction that

  • Denying entry would cause the foreign national undue hardship;
  • Entry would not pose a threat to the national security or public safety of the U.S. and
  • Entry would be in the national interest

Reason for the addition of travel restrictions on nationals of these countries

When the initial travel ban was issued, the administration indicated it was the result of a review of information sharing practices between the U.S. and close to 200 foreign nations to assess whether nationals of each country seeking to enter the U.S. pose a national security or public safety threat.   As a result of that review, Chad, Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela and Yemen were deemed to have inadequate identity management protocols, information sharing practices, and risk factors.  The Defense Department raised concerns about Iraq’s inclusion on this list.  Iraq was subsequently removed from the list upon assurances of additional screening measures.    Restrictions on nationals of Chad were lifted on April 13, 2018

The January 31, 2020 Presidential Proclamation indicates the addition of travel restrictions to nationals of Burma (Myanmar), Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Nigeria, Sudan, and Tanzania is a result of the same review of the updated security assessment criteria.  That is, the restrictions are necessary to ensure that countries satisfy security requirements for travel into the U.S., or face restrictions until they do.

Reason for the difference in travel restrictions between nationalities

Why the restriction on all immigrant visas for some nationalities, but only diversity visa-based immigrant visas for others?    The Proclamation indicates that Sudan and Tanzania have made more progress, thus their treatment is different:  “Because Sudan performed somewhat better than the countries listed earlier in this proclamation and is making important reforms to its system of government, different travel restrictions are warranted.”

Why are nonimmigrant visas not restricted at all, if the concern is national security-based?  Unknown.  Grounds of inadmissibility apply to all visa applicants, immigrant and nonimmigrant.  All visas applicants are fingerprinted and go through background checks.  However, immigrant visa applicants are vetted even more thoroughly than nonimmigrant visa applicants.  Therefore, the security benefit of banning admission based on nationality appears difficult to identify when admission restrictions are parsed in this manner.  It is possible that the restrictions are designed to be symbolic punitive measures to encourage the respective governments to put in place the desired security systems.  However, there have also been statements from the administration regarding concerns about the diversity visa program and immigration from certain countries which could be influencing policy.

Duration of the restrictions

The administration has advised the new travel ban is vital to national security and will remain “until those countries address their identified deficiencies.”

Nationalities still impacted by “Travel Ban 3.0”

Iran:  All immigrants and all nonimmigrants, except F (student), M (vocational student) and J (exchange visitor) nonimmigrants.  However, F, M and J applicants are subject to enhanced screening.

Libya: All immigrants and B-1 business visitor and B-2 tourist nonimmigrants

North Korea:  All immigrants and nonimmigrants

Somalia:   All immigrants.  Enhanced screening of all nonimmigrants.

Syria:  All immigrants and nonimmigrants

Venezuela:  Certain government officials and their family members on business or tourist visas (B-1/B-2)

Yemen:  All immigrants and B-1 business visitor and B-2 tourist nonimmigrants

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