On June 26, 2018, the Supreme Court of the United States upheld President Trump’s “travel ban”. Despite the many controversies surrounding the travel ban, the Court focused on the President’s powers to control and limit who may come to the United States. The Court found that the President has sweeping powers, rooted in decades of immigration statutes, to secure our country’s borders. These powers include deciding who may and who may not be allowed to seek entry to the United States.
In light of the fact that the travel ban’s validity has been upheld, it is important to understand what the ban entails. By way of background, the President’s travel ban was announced in September 2017 through Presidential Proclamation entitled “Enhancing Vetting Capabilities and Process for Detecting Attempted Entry into the United States by Terrorist or Other Public-Safety Threats,” No. 9645. The Proclamation reiterated that a worldwide review was conducted to assess what additional information would be required from each foreign country to determine whether foreign nationals coming to the United States pose a security or safety threat.
This global review involved the Department of Homeland Security’s creation of a comprehensive set of factors used to assess the information-sharing practices, policies, and capabilities of foreign governments on a worldwide basis. As a result, the Department of Homeland Security concluded that seven countries had deficient information sharing practices, which led the President to impose certain limitations on the entry for nationals from these seven countries, namely Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Syria, Venezuela, and Yemen. Restrictions were also placed on Somalia due to the ongoing problems in that country. The Proclamation was later amended on April 10, 2018, wherein the visa constraints on nationals from Chad were removed because of Chad’s efforts to work with the United States.
In light of the above, nationals of the below countries are subject to the following travel restrictions (unless they are otherwise exempt or qualify for a waiver):
- Iran – No nonimmigrant visas except F, M, and J visas. No immigrant visas.
- Libya – No B-1, B-2, or B-1/B-2 visas. No immigrant visas.
- North Korea – No nonimmigrant and immigrant visas.
- Somalia – No immigrant visas.
- Syria – No nonimmigrant and immigrant visas.
- Venezuela – No B-1, B-2, or B-1/B-2 visas for certain government officials and their families.
- Yemen – No B-1, B-2, or B-1/B-2 visas. No immigrant visas.
The travel restrictions apply to foreign nationals of the designated countries who are outside of the United States, do not have valid visas, and do not qualify for waivers or exemptions. The restrictions became effective for all affected foreign nationals as of October 18, 2017. It is important to remember that the Proclamation did not mandate that visas already in existence be revoked. Moreover, there are waivers available for qualified applicants, on a case-by-case basis, when consular officers determine that: that issuance is in the national interest, the applicant poses no national security or public safety threat to the United States, and denial of the visa would cause undue hardship.
Finally, the Proclamation restrictions do not apply to green card holders, diplomats, foreign nationals who have been granted asylum, withholding of removal, advance parole, and relief under the Convention of Torture, dual nationals of the designated countries who are traveling on passports issued by a non-designated country, and foreign nationals who have other documents allowing them to enter the United States.
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ABOUT THIS AUTHOR
Aggie Dolinska is a Senior Attorney with Wilner & O’Reilly, APLC. She is Board Certified as a specialist in immigration and nationality law by the State Bar of California’s Bureau of Legal Specialization. Ms. Dolinska’s immigration practice involves all areas of Immigration and Nationality Law, including family and employment-based immigration, non-immigrant visas, removal defense, litigation, and asylum law. Ms. Dolinska is currently the head of the litigation and deportation department in our office. Her removal defense practice includes representing clients in proceedings before the Immigration Court and on appeal with the Board of Immigration Appeals and the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. As a native of Poland, Ms. Dolinska has had personal experiences with the immigration system in the United States. Because of those experiences, she offers a unique perspective and understanding to the clients of Wilner & O’Reilly. Ms. Dolinska is fluent in English and Polish.
Kelly O’Reilly is a founding partner with Wilner & O’Reilly, APLC, and a former Immigration Officer with Citizenship and Immigration Services in Los Angeles and Orange County. With over 18 years working as an immigration attorney, he is an expert in all facets of Immigration Law and one of the best immigration attorneys serving Orange County and Riverside County. A native of Fresno, California, Mr. O’Reilly received his law degree from the University of La Verne, College of Law and his Bachelor of Science degree from Brigham Young University. A former missionary in Hong Kong, Mr. O’Reilly has a great love of Chinese culture and is conversant in Cantonese.