Practice Alert: President Trump Issues New Travel Restrictions
On September 24, 2017, President Trump issued a Presidential Proclamation titled, "Enhancing Vetting Capabilities and Processes for Detecting Attempted Entry into the United States by Terrorists or other Public-Safety Threats" (the "Proclamation"). The Proclamation asserts that eight countries do not adequately share identifying and security-related information regarding their nationals and accordingly imposes the following travel restrictions, which will remain in place indefinitely, on nationals of these countries:
- Chad – No B-1, B-2, and B-1/B-2 temporary visitor visas (nonimmigrant visas); no immigrant visas (green cards);
- Iran – No temporary visas unless it is for F, M, or J student visas (nonimmigrant visas); no immigrant visas (green cards); F, M, and J visa holders will be subject to "enhanced screening and vetting requirements";
- Libya – No B-1, B-2, and B-1/B-2 temporary visitor visas (nonimmigrant visas); no immigrant visas (green cards);
- North Korea – No temporary visas (nonimmigrant visas); no immigrant visas (green cards);
- Syria – No temporary visas (nonimmigrant visas); no immigrant visas (green cards);
- Venezuela – No B-1/B-2 or B-1/B-2 temporary visitor visas (nonimmigrant visas) for officials (and immediate family members of officials) of government agencies "involved in screening and vetting procedures," including: the Ministry of Interior, Justice, and Peace; the Administrative Service of Identification, Migration, and Immigration; the Corps of Scientific Investigations, Judicial and Criminal; the Bolivarian Intelligence Service; and the People's Power of Ministry of Foreign Affairs; no restrictions on immigrant visas (green cards);
- Yemen – No B-1, B-2, and B-1/B-2 temporary visitor visas (nonimmigrant visas); no immigrant visas (green cards);
- Somalia – No temporary visas (nonimmigrant visas); no immigrant visas (green cards); visa adjudications and entry decisions for Somali nationals will "be subject to additional scrutiny to determine if applicants are connected to terrorist organizations or otherwise pose a threat to the national security or public safety of the United States."
Nationals of Sudan, who were previously restricted from entry under Executive Order No. 13780, may now enter the United States. Nationals of Iraq, who were restricted from entry under Executive Order No. 13769, will "be subject to additional scrutiny to determine if they pose risks to the national security or public safety of the United States."
The above entry suspensions do not apply to:
- Legal Permanent Residents of the United States;
- Individuals with valid visas on the effective date of the Proclamation: October 18, 2017 at 12:01 AM EDT;
- Individuals with documents other than visas valid on October 18, 2017 or issued any date thereafter which allow them to travel to the United States and seek entry or admission. Applicable documents include: transportation letters, appropriate boarding foils, or advance parole documents;
- Dual nationals of a designated country traveling on passports issued by a non-designated country;
- Individuals traveling on diplomatic or diplomatic-type visas, North Atlantic Treaty Organization visas, C-2 visas for travel to the United Nations, or G-1, G-2, G-3, or G-4 visas; and
- Individuals who have been granted asylum, withholding of removal, or protection under the Convention Against Torture or who have already been admitted to the United States as refugees.
Additionally, the Proclamation does not revoke the status of any foreign nationals of the designated countries who are in the United States as of October 18, 2017 at 12:01 AM EDT. Individuals whose visas were revoked or canceled under Executive Order No. 13769 are entitled to travel documents permitting them to enter the United States, and revocations and cancellations made pursuant to Executive Order No. 13769 will not serve as the basis for future entry or admissibility determinations.
The Proclamation's travel restrictions will be implemented in two phases: Phase 1 from 3:30 PM EDT on Sunday, September 24, 2017 until 12:01 AM EDT on Wednesday, October 18, 2017; and Phase 2 beginning 12:01 AM EDT on Wednesday, October 18, 2017.
Phase 1 restricts certain nationals of Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen, and Somalia from traveling to the United States with exception to individuals who qualify for the bona fide "close family" (parent, parent-in-law, spouse, fiancé, child, adult son or daughter, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, sibling, brother-in-law, sister-in-law, grandparent, grandchild, aunt, uncle, niece, nephew, and first-cousin—including those with "half" or "step" status) exemption.
When Phase 2 initiates, nationals of Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Syria, Venezuela, Yemen, and Somalia may no longer utilize the bona fide relationship exception to avoid the travel restriction. Despite the bona fide relationship exemption restrictions, a national of one of the affected countries may still qualify for other exceptions or waivers listed in the Proclamation.
DHS Announces Implementation of Visa Sanctions on Four Countries
On September 13, 2017, the Department of Homeland Security ("DHS") announced the implementation of visa sanctions on Cambodia, Eritrea, Guinea, and Sierra Leone due to "lack of cooperation in accepting their nationals ordered removed from the United States" and "the suspension will remain in place on each of these respective countries until…cooperation on removals has improved to an acceptable level." Acting Secretary of DHS Elaine Duke notes "[i]international law obligates each country to accept the return of its nationals ordered removed from the U.S." Specifically, U.S. Embassies in Cambodia and Sierra Leone discontinued the issuance of B visitor visas (temporary visitors for business or pleasure) to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs employees (in Cambodia this extends to employees with the rank of Director General and above, and their families); discontinued the issuance of all B visitor visas in Eritrea; and discontinued the issuance of B, F, J, and M temporary visas to Guinean government officials and their immediate family members in Guinea.
If you have questions please contact James Morrison, Michael Nowlan, Thomas Ragland, Patrick Taurel or another member of Clark Hill's Immigration practice group.