WASHINGTON—New, more refined travel restrictions were issued in a proclamation by President Donald Trump late Sept. 24.
Citing national security threats, Trump placed limits on citizens from eight countries traveling to the United States.
Almost all citizens of Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Syria, Somalia, and Yemen will be banned indefinitely from entering the United States as of Oct. 18. Some Venezuelan citizens will be restricted, and Iraq citizens will not be subject to restrictions, but will face heightened scrutiny.
Chad, North Korea, and Venezuela are new to the list. The other countries had been named in Trump’s original 90-day visa ban announced in January and again in March in the revised version following a court injunction that blocked the original ban. Restrictions were lifted on Sudan, which was also named in previous bans.
Each of the eight countries has tailor-made restrictions, but citizens from most of them will be unable to emigrate under the new ban.
The new rules do not apply to legal permanent residents of the United States, and visas already issued to citizens from those countries will not be revoked. Once the nonimmigrant visas expire, however, they will be subject to the new restrictions.
“Following an extensive review by the Department of Homeland Security, we are taking action today to protect the safety and security of the American people by establishing a minimum security baseline for entry into the United States,” Trump said in a statement on Sept. 24.
“We cannot afford to continue the failed policies of the past, which present an unacceptable danger to our country. My highest obligation is to ensure the safety and security of the American people.”
Review ProcessThe Department of Homeland Security (DHS) reviewed almost 200 countries between March and July to identify those that needed to provide more information with visa applications to satisfy U.S. authorities that the individual is not a security or public-safety threat.
One criterion was document integrity—for example, whether a country issued passports with an embedded chip or not, or whether the country could provide evidence that their citizens are who they say they are.
Other criteria include whether the country is a known or potential terrorist safe haven; whether it is a participant in the Visa Waiver Program; and whether it regularly fails to receive its nationals who are subject to orders of removal from the United States.
The DHS initially identified 16 countries as being “inadequate” and 31 additional countries as “at risk” of becoming “inadequate” based on those criteria.
The State Department then spent 50 days engaging with those countries to help them meet the criteria and avoid travel restrictions.
ExceptionsOfficials said waivers can be granted on a case-by-case basis if denying entry would cause the foreign national undue hardship, and if allowing entry would not pose a threat to the national security or public safety of the United States, and if entry would be in the national interest.
Individuals with close family ties in the United States could be exempt from the restrictions.
More than 1 million immigrants from more than 150 countries are provided with permanent residency in the United States every year, with a path to citizenship, according to DHS.
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has an asylum backlog of more than 270,000 people.
Many of those immigrating and traveling to the United States come from areas with serious terrorism concerns, significant instability, substantial stresses on public systems, and other security and safety threats, the administration said.
“The restrictions and limitations imposed by this proclamation are, in my judgment, necessary to prevent the entry of those foreign nationals about whom the United States Government lacks sufficient information to assess the risks they pose to the United States,” Trump said.