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President Trump Issues New Indefinite Travel Restrictions

On Sunday, September 24, 2017, President Donald J. Trump signed a new proclamation, (“Enhancing Vetting Capabilities and Processes for Detecting Attempted Entry into the United States by Terrorists or other Public-Safety Threats”), restricting travel for foreign nationals from eight countries to the United States. President Trump’s proclamation replaces the previous version of the travel ban, which expired on the same date. The eight countries whose nationals are affected by the new travel restrictions are: (1) Chad, (2) Iran, (3) Libya, (4) North Korea, (5) Syria, (6) Venezuela, (7) Yemen, and (8) Somalia. The new travel restrictions add Venezuela, North Korea, and Chad to the countries already subject to the previous version of the travel ban, but Sudan has been removed from the list.

The new travel restrictions are theoretically indefinite and will only be lifted if and when the administration is satisfied that the specific country meets its basic security standards. Under the proclamation, there are varying degrees of country-specific restrictions that distinguish between immigrants (those with immigrant visas, including diversity visa winners) and nonimmigrants (those with nonimmigrant visas, such as students and tourists):

  • Syria and North Korea: Both immigrants and nonimmigrants who are nationals of Syria and North Korea will be blocked from entering the United States.
  • Iran: With the exception of those with student (F or M visa) or exchange visitor (J visa) status, both immigrants and nonimmigrants who are nationals of Iran will be blocked from entering the United States.
  • Libya: Entry to the U.S. is blocked for nationals of Libya who are (1) immigrants or (2) nonimmigrants on business (B-1), tourist (B-2), and business/tourist (B-1/B-2) visas.
  • Venezuela: Entry to the U.S. is blocked for officials of certain government agencies and their immediate family members who travel on business (B-1), tourist (B-2), and business/tourist (B-1/B-2) visas.
  • Yemen: Entry to the U.S. is blocked for nationals of Yemen who are (1) immigrants or (2) nonimmigrants on business (B-1), tourist (B-2), and business/tourist (B-1/B-2) visas.
  • Somalia: Entry to the U.S. is blocked for nationals of Somalia who are immigrants.
  • Chad: Entry to the U.S. is blocked for nationals of Chad who are (1) immigrants or (2) nonimmigrants on business (B-1), tourist (B-2), and business/tourist (B-1/B-2) visas.

Effective Dates: The proclamation contains different effective dates depending on the individuals who are or will be subject to the restrictions:

  • The new restrictions took immediate effect (at 3:30 p.m. EDT on September 24, 2017) for foreign nationals who were subject to the previous version of the travel ban (E.O. 13780) and do not have a credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the U.S.  Nationals of Sudan are no longer subject to travel restrictions.
  • The new restrictions will go into effect at 12:01 am EDT on October, 18, 2017 for all other foreign nationals subject to the proclamation: nationals of Venezuela, Chad, and North Korea, and nationals of Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen and Somalia—even those who do have a credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the U.S. This means that the “bona fide relationship” exception under the previous travel ban will cease to exist on October 18, 2017.

The new travel restrictions do not revoke existing and valid visas.

The new travel restrictions do not apply to (1) lawful permanent U.S. residents (“LPRs” or “green card” holders); (2) foreign nationals who are admitted or paroled into the U.S. on or after September 24, 2017; (3) foreign nationals who have documents other than a visa (such as an advance parole document) that permits travel to the U.S.; (4) dual nationals who are traveling on a passport issued by a non-designated country; (5) foreign nationals traveling on diplomatic visas; and (6) foreign nationals who have been granted asylum, withholding of removal, protection under the Convention Against Torture, or advance parole, and refugees who have already been admitted to the U.S.

Note: Foreign nationals otherwise subject to the new travel restrictions may nevertheless be eligible to travel to the United States if granted a discretionary, case-by-case waiver by a U.S. consular or U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer where the officer determines that: (a) denying entry would cause the foreign national undue hardship; (b) entry would not pose a threat to the United States’ national security or public safety; and (c) the foreign national’s entry would be in the national interest. The proclamation states that the Secretary of State and Secretary of Homeland Security will issue guidance regarding situations in which a waiver may be granted. For more information, please see the U.S. Department of State’s information page on the September 24, 2017 proclamation. 

Joseph Fungsang, Esq., is an immigration attorney at Margaret W. Wong & Associates LLC. Joseph is based in the New York City office, and he specializes in visas for aliens of extraordinary ability, litigation, and family and employment-based immigration. Joseph speaks Cantonese, Mandarin, Korean, and English.

Gordon Landefeld