President Trump has rolled out a new travel ban, after the previous 90-day travel ban expired yesterday. This new policy continues the existing travel restrictions to the U.S. for most citizens of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen, and now adds the countries of Chad, North Korea and Venezuela. The new restrictions range from full travel bans on nationals from countries like Syria, Chad, and North Korea to more targeted restrictions for Venezuela, Iran, Libya, and Yemen. For example, the suspension of nonimmigrant visas to citizens for Venezuela, applies only to senior government officials and their immediate families. Iranian nationals will only be allowed to enter the U.S. using valid student and exchange visitor visas, but such visitors will have to undergo "enhanced screening and vetting requirements."
These news restrictions, which will take effect on October 18, 2017 and will be in place for an indefinite period of time. The order does not apply to lawful permanent residents, existing visa-holders, or foreign nationals currently within the United States. The Department of Homeland Security may also grant waivers on a case-by-case basis for students and workers with significant U.S. ties who happened to be outside the country when the order was enacted, among others.
Once again, as a result of these actions, many in the immigrant community are confused and scared – I understand! Despite all that you read or hear in the news or from your friends and family, this is not a time to panic or to make hasty decisions. It is a time for calm, rational thinking and for informed, conservative and proactive planning. In that regard, I suggest the following:
- If you are a citizen of one of the countries listed in this new travel ban, do not travel out of the U.S. The Executive Order does not apply to you if you merely visited one of these countries.
- If you have a non-immigrant visa and you plan to travel out of the U.S. please consult with an Immigration Attorney first. In this climate of enhanced enforcement it is prudent to be able to document your status as much as possible in the event you are subject to additional scrutiny by an overly aggressive immigration officer upon your return.
- Consideration should be given to accelerating any immigration planning (i.e. extensions of status, green card processing, etc.) in order to take advantage of the existing laws and regulations. It is possible that these policies may continue to become more restrictive.
As evidenced by the prior travel bans, the current administration is intent on restricting travel to the U.S.. Once again, I sympathize with the fear and uncertainty many may be feeling right now - I come from a family of immigrants. It pains me that the country whose doors gave my family refuge in their time of need is now trying to close those same doors to others. I believe that these times too shall pass and that better times lie ahead. Until then I will do everything I can to ease your fears and help you through this difficult period.