On Jan. 31, 2020, President Trump issued a Proclamation, effective Feb. 21, 2020, imposing even more limitations on visa issuance and travel to the United States for additional countries entitled “Proclamation on Improving Enhanced Vetting Capabilities and Processes for Detecting Attempted Entry.” This Proclamation follows his first travel ban from March 2017 where the Secretary of Homeland Security was ordered to develop an assessment model to assess national security and public safety threats in identifying whether countries would be removed or added to the list. From the March 2017 travel ban, 200 countries were reviewed and assessed, and in September 2017, President Trump issued a revised version of the travel ban.
Since then, DHS has continued to review and assess security concerns from each country, utilizing updated methodologies, which includes a foreign government’s willingness and frequency in sharing information, and working with the intelligence community to assess risk of terrorist travel. A review of each country’s performance per the criteria established in 2017 was also conducted, and as a result, it has been recommended to President Trump that he exercise his authority to suspend entry into the United States for an additional six countries as follow: Burma (Myanmar), Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Nigeria, Sudan, and Tanzania.
For the newly added six countries, there will be no restriction of nonimmigrant visa because “there are prospects for near-term improvements.” Instead, immigrant visa travel will be restricted as follows:
- Myanmar (Burma): All immigrants, except for Special Immigrants whose eligibility is based on having provided assistance to the United States.
- Eritrea: All immigrants, except for Special Immigrants whose eligibility is based on having provided assistance to the United States.
- Kyrgyzstan: All immigrants, except for Special Immigrants whose eligibility is based on having provided assistance to the United States.
- Nigeria: All immigrants, except for Special Immigrants whose eligibility is based on having provided assistance to the United States.
- Sudan: All immigrants who are applying as Diversity Immigrants.
- Tanzania: All immigrants who are applying as Diversity Immigrants.
Exceptions will continue to be made for the following as per Proclamation 9645:
- Lawful permanent residents.
- A foreign national admitted or paroled into the U.S. on or after the effective date.
- A foreign national who has a valid document that permits travel (other than a visa).
- Any dual national who is traveling on a passport issued by a non-designated country.
- Any foreign national traveling on certain diplomatic visas.
- Any foreign national granted asylum, admitted as a refugee, or granted withholding of removal, advance parole, or protection under the Convention Against Torture.
Waivers will also continue to be available as per Proclamation 9645, at the discretion of a consular officer, Customs and Border Protection agent, or any other designated official who may grant the waiver on a case by case basis, per the guidelines set.
This Proclamation will apply to those nationals from the newly designated six countries as follows:
- Outside the U.S. on the effective date of the Proclamation;
- Does not have a valid visa as of the effective date of the Proclamation; and
- Does not qualify for a visa or other travel document under 6(d) of Proclamation 9645, which applies to individuals whose visas were marked revoked or canceled, but then later permitted to travel.
As noted above, the Proclamation is effective on Feb. 21, 2020. Note that the restrictions on the existing countries will remain for Iran, Libya, North Korea, Syria, Venezuela, Yemen, and Somalia.
Greenberg Traurig will continue to monitor this situation. Please contact your GT attorney if you have any questions.
For more information on immigration issues including the Proclamation and travel ban, please visit Greenberg Traurig’s Inside Business Immigration Blog.