United States: State Department Issues Travel Ban Guidance

Pursuant to a court order of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, the Trump Administration will begin temporary partial enforcement of travel restrictions against certain nationals of Chad, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen while the Administration appeals lower court rulings against the restrictions. Nationals of the six countries will be exempt from the restrictions if they have a bona fide relationship with a U.S. person or entity.

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Nov 19, 2017
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The State Department has issued guidance on implementation of the Trump Administration's third travel ban, in the wake of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit's recent order permitting temporary partial enforcement of the ban.  Certain nationals of Chad, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen will be subject to country-specific travel restrictions, with exemptions for travelers with a bona fide relationship to a person or entity in the United States, among others.  The travel restrictions, which were announced in a September 24, 2017 presidential proclamation, were blocked by two lower courts in October. The Trump Administration has appealed those rulings. The Ninth Circuit and the Fourth Circuit will hear oral arguments in the appeals in the coming weeks. 

The travel restrictions
Nationals of the six countries are subject to the following U.S. travel limitations until further notice, unless they are otherwise exempt:

  • Chad: No B-1, B-2 or B-1/B-2 visitor visas; no immigrant or diversity lottery visas.
  • Iran: No nonimmigrant visas except F and M student visas and J exchange visitor visas; no immigrant or diversity lottery visas.
  • Libya: No B-1, B-2 or B-1/B-2 visitor visas; no immigrant or diversity lottery visas.
  • Somalia: Nonimmigrant visa applicants subject to heightened scrutiny; no immigrant or diversity visas. 
  • Syria: No nonimmigrant, immigrant or diversity lottery visas.
  • Yemen: No B-1, B-2 or B-1/B-2 visitor visas; no immigrant or diversity lottery visas.

Travel restrictions against North Koreans and certain Venezuelan government officials were not affected by the rulings and remain in place. 

Exemptions and waivers 
The Ninth Circuit's order prohibits the Administration from enforcing restrictions against travelers who have a bona fide relationship with: 

  • A close family member in the United States, which includes immediate family as well as grandparents, grandchildren, brothers/sisters-in law, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, and cousins; or 
  • A U.S. entity, such as a sponsoring employer, where the relationship is documented, formal, and not formed for the purposes of evading the ban.

In addition, U.S. lawful permanent residents, dual nationals, holders of valid visas and certain other classes of foreign nationals are exempt from the travel restrictions by the terms of the original presidential proclamation.  Waivers of the restrictions are available on a case-by-case basis. To be eligible for a waiver, a foreign national must demonstrate that he or she would suffer undue hardship if denied entry, and that his or her entry would not pose a threat to U.S. national security or public safety and would be in U.S. national interest. The waiver must be requested in the consular visa interview. Waivers are highly discretionary and may be difficult to obtain. 

Impact on foreign nationals with a visa or visa appointment
The State Department will not revoke visas already issued to nationals of the six restricted countries solely on the basis of the travel ban proclamation. It will not cancel visa appointments already scheduled by restricted nationals, but visa applicants must demonstrate that they are exempt from or eligible for a waiver of the travel restrictions. 

This alert is for informational purposes only. If you have any questions, please contact the immigration professional with whom you work at Fragomen.

© 2017 Fragomen, Del Rey, Bernsen & Loewy, LLP, Fragomen Global LLP and affiliates. All Rights Reserved.
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