US President Donald Trump has signed a new travel order, which puts a 90-day freeze on new visas for citizens of six majority-Muslim nations, with the new ban excluding Iraq. But there’s a number of other changes too.
Trump’s previous executive order stopped immigration to the USA from blacklisted countries of Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen, while DFAT warned that those who have visited the seven countries since 2011 would no longer be allowed to apply for an ESTA to enter the US under the the Visa Waiver Program.
However in early February, a Seattle Judge overturned Trump’s ban, and authorities had it suspended, as airlines resumed flights between the blocked nations and the US.
So now the President has signed a new executive order, what’s changed? Based on an FAQ and a “fact sheet” provided by the White House, and on the text of the order itself, Quartz Media uncovered five key differences.
1. Iraq is excluded from the list of banned countries
All countries from the initial January order will have their visa issuance to citizens suspended for 90 days, except Iraq, meaning countries being blocked now include Sudan, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen.
According to the fact sheet, after negotiations between the Iraq government and the US State Department, “Iraq will increase cooperation with the U.S. Government on the vetting of its citizens applying for a visa to travel to the United States.”
The order does, however, still advise that Iraqi nationals seeking admittance to the US “should be subjected to additional scrutiny to determine if applicants have connections with ISIS or other terrorist organizations, or otherwise pose a risk to either national security or public safety.”
2. Already-issued visas will now be recognised
Contrary to the earlier ban, travellers from the six banned countries who already have visas, as well as refugees who have already been given visas, won’t be turned away at the US border.
“No visas will be revoked solely based on this executive order,” the FAQ says, which is a relief given after the first order was instigated, some 60,000 visas were revoked.
3. The order doesn’t start from right now
The Executive Order will come into play from March 16, meaning travellers from the six countries who are currently without documentation still have until 12:01am March 16 to apply for visas to come into the US. No word, however, on whether they’ll be granted.
4. Long term residents and dual nationals not affected
The January ban originally banned green card holders, and some dual-national citizens from listed countries were turned away. But according to the White House, this will no longer be the case, however dual-national citizens must be “traveling on a passport issued by a non-designated country” to be allowed into the States.
In addition, travellers who have already been admitted to the country for “a continuous period of work, study, or other long-term activity,” will be allowed to apply for visas on a case-by-case basis, as will those with “significant business or professional obligations.” Foreigners seeking to visit or live with family will also be able to apply on a case-by-case basis.
5. Religion no longer a factor
The original ban ordered US State Department to “prioritise refugee claims made by individuals on the basis of religious-based persecution, provided that the religion of the individual is a minority religion in the individual’s country of nationality”.
What this basically meant was the US was prioritising Christians, leaving many to criticise the order as a “Muslim ban”.
The fact sheet and FAQs on the new order, however, make no mention of religion.