On Sept. 24, 2017, President Trump issued a Proclamation imposing new limitations on visa issuance and travel to the United States for nationals of eight countries entitled “Presidential Proclamation Enhancing Vetting Capabilities and Processes for Detecting Attempted Entry Into the United States by Terrorists or Other Public-Safety Threats.” These countries include: Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Syria, Venezuela, Yemen, and Somalia. This Proclamation was issued after the Attorney General and the Secretaries of the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of State collected information from more than 200 countries to determine whether there were threats or security concerns in a comprehensive report submitted to the president on July 9, 2017. Out of the 200 countries evaluated and studied in the reports, a small number were determined to be deficient with regard to identity management and information sharing capabilities, protocols, and practices, as well as having a terrorist presence within the countries. The reports evaluated: 1) identity management information, including integrity documents such as passports; 2) national security and public safety information on criminal history; and 3) national security and public safety risk assessment focused on terrorist activity within the country.
After allowing time for the identified deficient countries to improve their processes or show they could improve their performance, it was determined that Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Syria, Venezuela, and Yemen continue to have inadequate protocols pursuant to the baseline factors, and as such, will be subject to new restrictions and limitations. Somalia was also added to this list of restricted nations.
The Proclamation includes language that will allow countries to be removed from the list as soon as they address the inadequacies identified. However, until then, immigrants from the eight countries will not be allowed entry to the United States. In particular, President Trump discusses immigrant entry and how it would be more difficult to remove lawful permanent residents (LPR), even if more vetting occurs with their applications. The vetting process, according to President Trump, is not reliable because the seven countries do not have adequate information sharing and identity management.
Nonimmigrant entry by nationals of these countries will be afforded a more tailored approach - those who do not meet the baseline will have all nonimmigrant entry restricted. Certain countries will be allowed various classes of nonimmigrant entry, depending on level of cooperation and ability to improve vetting policies.
Section 2: Specific Countries
Chad: Nationals of Chad are restricted entry. This includes immigrants and those on B-1/B-2 visas (tourist/business).
Iran: All entry of Iranian nationals as immigrants and nonimmigrants is suspended, except those in F, M, and J status, though those individuals should expect more scrutiny.
Libya: Nationals of Libya are restricted entry. This includes immigrants and those on B-1/B-2 visas (tourist/business).
North Korea: All entry of North Koreans is suspended, including all immigrant and nonimmigrant categories.
Syria: All entry of Syrians is suspended, including all immigrant and nonimmigrant categories.
Venezuela: The restrictions on entry only apply to government officials of Venezuela who are responsible for the identified inadequacies. This includes various identified government officials and their immediate family members, and applies to any B visas. Nationals of Venezuela who are visa holders will be subject to additional security and screening measures.
Yemen: Nationals of Yemen are restricted entry. This includes immigrants and those on B-1/ B-2 visas (tourist/business).
Somalia: Though Somalia was not originally included in the list of restricted nations, it was determined that entry will be limited until there are additional screening and vetting measures. Somalia is a country that has cooperated with identity management and information sharing, but has been unable to adequately combat terrorism, according to the report submitted to the president. As such, entry of immigrants is suspended, while other visa adjudications will be subject to additional screening and scrutiny.
Iraq was also identified as deficient, but it was determined that entry restrictions and limitations are not yet warranted. Nationals of Iraq who are seeking to enter the United States should still be prepared for additional scrutiny.
Section 3: Application
The Proclamation will apply to foreign nationals of the identified countries who:
1. Are outside the United States on the effective date (see below);
2. Do not have a valid visa on the effective date; and
3. Do not qualify for a visa or other valid travel document
Suspension of entry will not apply to those who are:
1. Lawful permanent residents of the United States;
2. A foreign national who is admitted to or paroled into the United States on or after the effective date;
3. A foreign national who has a document (that is not a visa) such as a transportation letter or advance parole document, valid on the effective date or issued thereafter, that permits travel to the United States;
4. Any dual national traveling on a passport issued by a non-designated country;
5. A foreign national traveling on a diplomatic visa;
6. A foreign national granted asylum by the United States, a refugee admitted to the United States, or an individual granted withholding of removal, advance parole, or protection under the Convention Against Torture.
Waivers will be granted on a case-by-case basis. Waivers may be granted if it is determined that (i) there is undue hardship, (ii) entry would not pose a threat to the United States, and (iii) entry would be in the national interest. The case-by-case waivers may only be granted in the following circumstances:
1. The foreign national has been previously admitted for work, study, or another long-term activity, and is now outside the United States;
2. The foreign national has established significant contacts with the United States but is now outside for work, study, or other lawful activity;
3. The foreign national needs to enter the United States for “significant business or professional obligations”;
4. The foreign national seeks to enter to visit or reside with a close family member who is a United States citizen, LPR, or one admitted in valid status;
5. The foreign national is a young child or one needing urgent medical care;
6. The foreign national has been employed on or behalf of the U.S. government and has demonstrated valuable service;
7. The foreign national is traveling for purposes related to an international organization;
8. The foreign national is a Canadian permanent resident who applies for a visa in Canada;
9. The foreign national is traveling as a U.S. government-sponsored exchange visitor; or
10. The foreign national is traveling to the United States at the request of the U.S. government.
Section 4: Removal of Suspension
A reassessment will occur 180 days of the effective date, and every 180 days thereafter, on whether suspensions should be lifted or added and whether countries will be added or removed.
Section 6: Enforcement:
It is important to note that no immigrant or nonimmigrant visas will be revoked prior to the Proclamation. Any visas that were revoked or canceled as a result of the Travel Ban will be entitled to a new travel document.
Section 7: Effective Dates
There are two different effective dates:
1. Sept. 24, 2017, at 3:30 p.m. EST: the restrictions in Section 2 (identifying the countries) are effective for those who were subject to the entry restrictions under section 2 of Executive Order 13780, or would have been subject to the restrictions but for section 3 of that Executive Order and lack a credible claim of a bona fide relationship with the U.S. person or entity.
2. Oct. 18, 2017, at 12:01 a.m. EST: the restrictions in section 2 are effective for all other persons subject to the Proclamation, including Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen, and Somalia nationals who have a credible claim of a bona fide relationship to a U.S. person or entity; and nationals of Chad, North Korea, and Venezuela.