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Trump's Travel Ban: Who does it affect?

Faster than Apple updates, the Trump administration is already carrying out version 3.0 on immigration policy, commonly known as the Travel Ban. This update aims to prohibit entry of nonimmigrants and immigrants who are nationals from 8 countries; Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela, Yemen. Each country has its own set of specific restrictions. Instead of a 90-day vetting period like the first version, this ban is basically indefinite. To break it down, the new update is being carried out in two phases. September 24, 2017 marked the beginning of phase 1 and phase 2 will start on October 18. Trump administration announced that the update does not apply to refugees, but they will have a separate policy regarding refugees from these 8 countries forthcoming. We’ll pinpoint the takeaways from this ban for those who may be affected in any way. Before we delve in, it helps to understand why these new regulations exist.

This new order, compared to its predecessors, takes on an even longer name: “Enhancing Vetting Capabilities and Processes for Detecting Attempted Entry into the United States by Terrorists or other Public-Safety Threats”.

Don’t let the lengthy name scare you.

Essentially, this newer order follows up or implements the next step to version 2 from back in March. Previously, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) conducted a worldwide review using a set of criteria to evaluate each foreign countries’ information-sharing practice, policies, as well as each governments’ stability and capabilities. At the end of this review, the Trump administration blacklisted 8 countries whose information sharing practices were deemed “inadequate” or otherwise the president has “special concerns” toward. The travel ban has significant ramification for United States’ diplomatic relationship on the international level, but let’s take a look at what it means to the individuals who are these countries nationals.

According to this Travel Ban update, “U.S. embassies and consulates will deny visas to most cases from the 8 blacklisted countries, with few exceptions that will require extensive screening and vetting process.

  • Chad: No immigrants or diversity visas will be issued; No nonimmigrants visas B-1, B-2, and B-1/B-2 will be issued; as of September 24, “bona fide relationship” exception is no longer acceptable. **Quick refresher, “bona fide relationship” extends to those who have close family members who are U.S. citizens such as parents, parents-in-law, spouses, fiancé or fiancee, child, adult son or daughter, son or daughter-in-law, sibling, brother or sister-in-law, grandparent, grandchild, aunt, uncle, niece, nephew, first-cousin, and for all listed relationships, half or step relationships is included.

  • Iran: No immigrants or diversity visas will be issued; no nonimmigrant visas except F, M, and J student visas; during phase 1 (from September 24, 2017 to October 17, 2017), the “bona fide relationship” exception still applies and ends when phase 2 (October 18, 2017) starts.

  • Libya: No immigrants or diversity visas will be issued; No nonimmigrant visas B-1, B-2, and B-1/B-2 will be issued; During phase 1 the “bona fide relationship” exception is still accepted, but it ends when phase 2 starts.

  • North Korea: No immigrant, nonimmigrant, or diversity visas will be issued. No “bona fide relationship” exception accepted.

  • Somalia: No immigrant or diversity visas; nonimmigrant visas face no restriction. During phase 1 the “bona fide relationship” exception is still accepted, but ends when phase 2 starts.

  • Venezuela: No immigrant visa restrictions; No nonimmigrant visas B-1, B-2, and B-1/B-2 will be issued for officials and their immediate family members from the following government agencies: 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 Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

  • Yemen: No immigrants or diversity visas will be issued; No nonimmigrant visas B-1, B-2, and B-1/B-2 will be issued. During phase 1 the “bona fide relationship” exception is still accepted, but ends when phase 2 starts.

From these countries, any individual who may be able to obtain a visa will still have to face extensive screening and vetting process upon entering the United States.

How will these new restrictions affect issued visas or currently processing visas?

  • If you’ve already obtained a visa, then your visa is safely yours. The new order specified that no visas issued before its effective date will be revoked. Therefore, if you’ve obtained a valid visa but have yet to enter the United States, then the restrictions do not apply to you.

  • If your visa expires after the effective date, then you will not be able to renew your visa if your case is under the restrictions.

  • If your visa is currently in the works, then here are the specifics:

    • First, the Trump administration has stated that it won’t cancel previously scheduled visa application appointments.

    • Second, it’s up to the consular officer to determine if the course of interview whether an applicant’s case is exempt from the new restrictions, be eligible for a waiver, or falls under the 2 phases of restrictions.

    • Third, The National Visa Center (NVC) continues to work on cases that are in process, so applicants should still pay their fee, complete all necessary forms, and submit the paperwork to the NVC.

    • For those who are currently applying for the K (fiancé) visa, the NVC is expediting all I-129F petitions. Once the petition and case files are processed, the embassy or consulate will contact you to schedule an interview.

  • If you recently had an interview at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate, but your case is still being considered:

    • Make sure you’ve sent in all missing documents and completed any of the administrative processing. The embassy or consulate where you were interviewed will contact you. It’s still up to the consular officer to determine the status of your case.

    Sponsoring family members for an immigrant visa

    • Following the two phases of implementation, all bona fide cases both familial relationship and relationship with an entity will only be available during the first phase. After the second phase starts, the bona fide relationship exception will be no longer available.

    While the Trump administration’s new travel ban is underway, the Supreme Court was originally scheduled to hear arguments on President Trump’s travel ban on October 10, 2017 but cancelled it immediately.

Updated on January 15, 2020

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