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President Trump’s Travel Ban Two Years Later

What is commonly referred to as the “travel ban” or “Muslim ban” is the product of three executive orders signed by President Donald Trump in 2017 and 2018. Each executive order met a number of legal challenges in the federal court system, but ultimately, the third version of the order was upheld by the United States Supreme Court in 2018. Recently, January 27, 2019 marked the two-anniversary of the travel ban, and today, the ban remains in full effect.
The effect of the travel ban is to indefinitely suspend the issuance of immigrant and non-immigrant visas to foreign nationals of often Muslim-majority countries, specifically Libya, Iran, Somalia, Syria, Yemen, North Korea and Venezuela. The government claims that the reasons for excluding immigrants from these seven countries are poor cooperation with U.S. officials, terrorist activity and the failure to properly document travelers. There are a few, rare exceptions to the travel ban. For instance, students from Iran and Libya are still able to acquire student visas. But otherwise, foreign nationals from the banned countries will only be able to enter the United States if they are granted a waiver.
The travel ban provides for a waiver where a visa applicant can show why they should be allowed to enter the United States despite the travel ban restrictions. However, there is no published application or formal procedure for qualification. Consequently, success is exceptionally challenging. The travel ban provides three factors that a person needs to prove to qualify for a waiver:

  1. A denial would cause undue hardship;
  2. The applicant does not pose a national security threat; and
  3. A visa approval would be in the “national interest.”

To further complicate the matter, each embassy has a different procedure and set of preferences when evaluating travel ban waivers. Therefore, the best way to present a waiver depends on the embassy at which the applicant chooses to apply. Acquiring a waiver is exceptionally difficult and accusations have been made that the process is arbitrary and intentionally opaque. In 2018, a lawsuit was filed against the government, accusing the government of not honoring the waiver provision of the executive order, and instead denying almost every waiver.
With the rapid pace of the news and our daily lives, the travel ban, now two years old, can be easily forgotten. Nonetheless, the travel ban remains in full force and continues to effect millions of lives worldwide. If you have any further questions or concerns about the travel ban, or if you are struggling with a travel ban-related issue yourself, do not hesitate to Berardi Immigration Law and set up a consultation with one of our attorneys today!