President Trump signed a new executive order reviving the travel ban.
The new ban applies to individuals from the Muslim-majority countries of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. The new ban omits Iraq, which was listed in the first ban, and goes into effect next Thursday, March 16. In announcing the effective date, the Trump administration sought to avoid the chaos it created with the first ban, which went into immediate effect and invalidated visas while people were en route to the U.S.
The revised travel ban will be in effect for 90 days. After that time, the Trump administration may make changes, including adding countries or making the ban permanent.
The new order also suspends the refugee program for 120 days. After that, the U.S. will only accept a maximum of 50,000 refugees annually into the country, down substantially from the 110,000 set by the Obama administration.
Changes to the Travel Ban
The latest executive order revoked the previous order Trump signed in January that a federal judge halted last month. The new ban contains significant changes from January’s sweeping travel ban, presumably making it more defensible in court. The latest executive order:
- Drops Iraq from the list of banned Muslim-majority countries. The reason? Iraqi leaders have agreed to increase security screening, share information, and take back Iraqi nationals in a timely manner.
- Provides some specifics on the national security need for the ban.
- Blocks only the issuance of new visas.
Unlike the previous order, the new order states that individuals from the banned countries who have valid visas or green cards will be allowed entry into the U.S.
In citing a need for the ban, the order also states that “more than 300 persons who entered the United States as refugees are currently the subjects of counterterrorism investigations by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.” However, a breakdown of the home countries and immigration statuses of those refugees mentioned were not disclosed.
Possible Waivers to Travel Ban
The order also states that a foreign national from one of the banned countries could seek a waiver. Waivers would be assessed on a case-by-case basis. Among the scenarios mentioned that might be eligible for a waiver include a foreign national:
- Seeking to re-enter the U.S. to resume their studies.
- Looking to enter the U.S. for significant business or professional reasons.
- “Employed by, or on behalf of” the U.S. government or “conducting meetings or business” with the U.S. government.
- Wanting to “visit or reside” with a close family member who is either a U.S. citizen, permanent resident, or has a valid nonimmigrant visa.
In applying for a waiver, a foreign national would need to show that:
- Denied entrance to the U.S. would cause undue hardship.
- Her/his entry into the U.S. would not pose a threat to national security.
- Her/his entry into the U.S. would be in the national interest.
Despite changes to the ban, the intent is the same. After the Trump administration announced the first ban in January, I wrote a blog about why it will harm the U.S. Those reasons still hold true. Rather than focusing attention and resources on the people who actually pose a threat to the U.S., the Trump administration has chosen to scapegoat Muslims, overreach with this policy, and destroy America’s moral authority.
What To Do?
If you hold a passport from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, or Yemen, and you:
- Are currently outside the U.S. and have a valid visa, you should return to the U.S. before March 16.
- Do not have a valid visa, consider filing a waiver for entry to the U.S.
- Have a valid visa that will be expiring soon, consider coming to the U.S. as soon as possible before the visa expires. You will be allowed to stay until the date of the I-94 stamp marked in your passport. Sometimes this stay extends beyond the date of your visa expiration. Under some circumstances, it may be possible to apply for an extension to remain in the U.S. beyond this date.
- Are currently in the U.S. and are eligible to apply for an adjustment of status (Form I-485) to obtain a green card for permanent residence in the U.S. should do so as soon as possible
- Can obtain citizenship through naturalization (Form N-400), should do so as soon as possible.
And finally, consider supporting civil and immigrant rights groups, such as the ACLU or the American Immigration Council, which are protecting civil liberties and due process and advocating for rational immigration reform.
If you or a loved one need help with a waiver or need any assistance in the wake of the new Muslim ban, contact us at Alcorn Immigration Law. Our team can help immigrants anywhere inside or outside the United States facing any of these issues.