As previously reported, the White House issued a second travel ban in the form of an Executive Order in March 2017, replacing the original ban that was the subject of court challenges. The March 2017 EO removed Iraq from the previous list of banned countries but barred entry into the U.S. by foreign nationals from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen for 90 days. It also required the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to conduct a global review of information provided to the U.S. by foreign governments regarding their citizens seeking entry to the U.S., and to develop a recommendation of countries that should be subject to a future entry ban. Two federal courts blocked enforcement of that ban, and the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to review the cases. Upon expiration of the 90-day ban, however, the Court dismissed both cases as moot without reaching a substantive decision.
On Sept. 24, the White House issued Proclamation No. 9645, entitled Enhancing Vetting Capabilities and Processes for Detecting Attempted Entry into the United States by Terrorists or Other Public-Safety Threats (Proclamation). The Proclamation establishes an indefinite bar against entry into the U.S. by citizens of certain countries identified following DHS’s review as required by the EO. Specifically, the Proclamation suspends entry of immigrants from the following countries: Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Chad and North Korea. It also imposes the following restrictions on non-immigrant (e.g., F, H, J visa) entry:
- Iran: All non-immigrants are banned from entry except those on student (F and M) and exchange visitor (J) visas. These individuals will be subject to undefined enhanced screening and vetting requirements.
- Chad, Libya and Yemen: All non-immigrants on business (B-1), tourist (B-2) or business/tourist (B-1/B-2) visas are banned from entry.
- Venezuela: Certain government officials and their immediate family members are banned from entry as non-immigrants on business, tourist and business/tourist visas.
- Syria and North Korea: All non-immigrants are barred from entry.
Although no ban was imposed on individuals from Iraq, the Proclamation provides that nationals from Iraq will be subject to “additional scrutiny.”
On Oct. 17 and 18, federal courts in Hawaii and Maryland, respectively, issued injunctions temporarily blocking implementation of the Proclamation, with the exception of its application to North Korea and Venezuela. The injunctions apply on a nationwide basis. A hearing will be scheduled prior to a final decision being issued and the White House has appealed the Maryland injunction to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Unrelated to the Proclamation and the associated litigation, the Department of State recently announced that it has suspended the issuance of non-immigrant visas from diplomatic facilities in Turkey. Citizens of Turkey may continue to apply for visas outside of Turkey. It is unclear how long this restriction will remain in place.
We will continue to keep you updated as new developments arise.