*COVID-19 Update: Due to the spread of the Coronavirus, currently there are many travel restrictions, which are not connected to the travel ban, and that are temporary measures.*
The Trump Administration has launched another expansion to the list of countries that fall under the “travel ban” list. These countries include Burma, Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Nigeria, Sudan, and Tanzania. If you or a loved one are from any of these countries, here is what you need to know:
At STERN Law, we have been monitoring the developments of the ban closely and have been informed that the countries added to the list are being evaluated based on specific criteria. Among the criteria is the ability to verify the identity of its own nationals. Information sharing practices with the United States is also an important factor as well as the risk of possible terror or public safety attacks. Before adding countries to the ban, state officials usually attempt to work with the countries to remedy outstanding issues.
However, the Trump Administration ultimately decided to add countries to the “travel ban,” without fully allowing each country to rectify the issues with their internal systems. While the stated pretextual purpose is risk and safety, at STERN Law we are well aware of the Trump Administration’s patterns with regard to immigration policies.
“We know from the history of this Administration that this is another attempt to limit the freedoms of black and brown immigrants who have proven their right to be part of America,” said STERN Law founder, Jessica Stern. “We must not let this restrictive policy blur the pride we take in welcoming all people, all nations,” she continued.
What does the “travel ban” mean?
The issuance of new visas to those who intend to immigrate to the United States from these countries will be severely affected by this ban. The travel ban will go into effect on February 21, 2020, and will apply to nationals of these countries who (1) are not already Lawful Permanent Residents or naturalized Citizens of the U.S.; (2) are outside the United States on or after this date; (3) have been approved or intend to apply for an immigrant visa (pursuant to a family or employment-based petition for legal residency); and (4) do not qualify for a non-immigrant visa or other valid travel document. Non-immigrant visas, such as visitor visas, are not included; however, we anticipate that they will be more closely scrutinized after the ban comes into effect.
What can non-citizens do to protect themselves?
If you are a national of one of these countries or are related to someone who is, it is important to consider that this ban may impact future eligibility to obtain an immigrant visa, travel to the United States, and subsequently receive legal residency status.
While this news poses another hurdle for many of our clients and friends, we want to reassure you that we are in the process of exploring all options for our affected clients. For instance, we can explore potential hardship waivers of visa denials in the event our clients are denied an immigrant visa at the consulate during this travel ban.
We are working tirelessly to provide a reasonable and direct solution to this issue for those impacted. We have already notified clients who we know may be affected and are hoping you can help us spread the word outside our immediate client network. If you or someone you know is from any of these countries and you fear there may be an impact, we encourage you to contact us right away so we can evaluate your case.