Trump Issues New Travel Restrictions

Just as the administration’s travel ban was set to expire on Sunday after a 90-day review period, President Trump over the weekend issued a broader immigration order on travel to the United States.

The new restrictions, which are slated to take effect next month, prompted the Supreme Court yesterday to cancel oral arguments on the preceding travel ban, likely rendering moot active litigation on the controversial order. The court had been scheduled to hear the case on Oct. 10.

What does the new order do?

The president’s proclamation imposes permanent restrictions on travel of nationals from seven countries, including the majority of those covered by his original ban. Citing his duty “to protect the security and interests of the United States and its people,” Trump declared that, starting Oct. 18, most citizens of the following countries will be barred from entering the U.S.:

  1. Chad
  2. Iran
  3. Libya
  4. North Korea
  5. Somalia
  6. Syria
  7. Yemen

In addition, certain groups of people from Venezuela—namely government officials, and business travelers and tourists on B-1 and B-2 visas, respectively—will be prohibited from traveling to the U.S.

The restrictions exclude nationals of the listed countries who are legal permanent residents of the United States, as well as those who presently have valid visas, including foreign students on F-1 visas, for example.

Nonimmigrants whose visas or travel documents expire at any point during the new order’s lifespan will subsequently be subject to the restrictions. However, these individuals’ immigration benefits will not be revoked for as long as their status is valid.

How is the new order different from the old travel ban?

Compared to his original travel ban, Trump’s new order is considerably wider in scope.

For one, the restrictions on travel to the U.S. for nationals of the cited countries are indefinite, not set to phase out after any predefined review period.

Second, the targeted countries include two nations, North Korea and Venezuela, which are not majority-Muslim. This is a departure from the original order that may insulate the government from criticism that it is discriminating against individuals on the basis of religion.

Further, the order subjects the most stringent prohibitions on North Korea and Syria, banning all citizens from both countries from receiving any type of visa.

In addition, unlike the prior order, the new restrictions exclude Sudan, allow the government to remove countries from the list as considerations change, and explicitly exclude aliens who have already obtained permission to enter the country. Since it was unveiled about a month before taking effect in full, the sort of chaotic rollout that defined the original travel ban—with individuals being detained at airports, sometimes wrongfully—is not expected to occur.

Lastly, the proclamation does not specifically cover refugees seeking entry to the United States.

Why was the new order issued?

While the most controversial component of Trump’s preceding travel ban—the 90-day prohibition on travel to the U.S. for citizens from six predominantly Muslim countries—expired on Sunday, the groundwork for his new order began earlier this spring.

On March 6, the president directed federal agencies, including the U.S. Departments of Homeland Security (DHS) and State (DOS), to review information-sharing protocols employed in immigration screening and vetting. To this end, DHS established “a comprehensive set of criteria” required by foreign countries to assess whether or not their citizens seeking entry to the U.S. posed a security threat. DOS subsequently worked with countries to “address deficiencies and achieve improvements” in immigrant screening.

Of the nearly 200 countries evaluated, those covered by the new travel restrictions either failed to satisfactorily comply with information-sharing and vetting practices or played host to “a significant terrorist presence within their territory.”

What’s next?

Foreign nationals targeted by Trump’s older orders, as instructed by the Supreme Court, will continue to be banned from the United States until the new order takes effect.

The preceding travel ban suspended the U.S. refugee program for a 120-day period, which is slated to end next month. Because the new proclamation does not address refugees, this portion of the travel ban will remain in effect until that time, barring any action by the Supreme Court.

While active litigation on the travel ban, which reached the nation’s highest court this summer, will likely end as a result of the new order—leaving the question of the constitutionality of the president’s actions unanswered—challenges to the new restrictions are expected. These lawsuits will have to start at the bottom of the judicial system, in federal district courts, before potentially moving up through appellate courts and eventually the Supreme Court.

In its one-paragraph order yesterday, the justices requested both the government and challengers to the stalled travel ban litigation to submit briefs by Oct. 5, addressing “whether, or to what extent,” the new travel restrictions make hearing the case unnecessary. 

But even if the Supreme Court dismisses the travel ban case as moot, it will still likely have to decide whether or not to vacate the appeals court decisions that originally blocked the travel ban.

Our Thoughts

At Zhang & Associates, our work is animated by the conviction that the United States strongly benefits from immigration. We analyze the administration’s immigration-related actions with justifiable skepticism, wondering why the travel bans were necessary for their stated rationale in the first place. After all, in February of this year, DHS itself concluded in a report that “country of citizenship is unlikely to be a reliable indicator of potential terrorist activity.” And the findings of a Cato Institute report released yesterday further undercut the president. According to the think tank, citizens from the targeted countries killed precisely zero Americans in terrorist attacks on American soil between 1975 and 2015, and the combination of fewer refugees, fewer nonimmigrants, and fewer foreign tourists exacts a significant economic toll on the United States, even resulting in depressing the wages of American workers.

Over the past two decades, our experienced immigration attorneys have represented thousands of clients, including nationals of the targeted countries, who share a common goal: coming to the United States to visit, to work, to learn, or to start a new life. Our firm will continue this mission, thereby doing our part to ensure that the U.S. remains the committed host to immigrants that it has always been known to be. Our clients should know that we stand ready to assist them in their desire to become lawful, productive, and respected members of American society, irrespective of their religious or national backgrounds.

Over the coming weeks, Zhang & Associates will continue to monitor developments relating to the government’s new travel restrictions, both in the courts and in practice.

This is a developing news story, and as more information becomes available, updates will be published on our news section.

Former U.S. Consular officer, Attorney Sechyi Laiu joined Zhang & Associates, P.C. on June 26, 2017

At Zhang & Associates, P.C., Attorney Laiu specializes on Consular Processing cases and business development. Attorney Laiu also focuses on TN visas, E visas, CBP administrative proceedings (monetary confiscation, deferred inspection), and overseas financial compliance.

Prior to joining Zhang & Associates, P.C., Attorney Laiu worked for the U.S. Department of State as a Chinese and Portuguese speaking diplomat. As a consular-coned officer who served in Vancouver (Canada), Shenyang (P.R. China), and Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Attorney Laiu processed over 30,000 visa cases and worked in every section of Consular Affairs overseas (Fraud Prevention Unit, Immigrant Visas, Non-Immigrant Visas, and American Citizen Services).

He will use his experience and expertise to deliver the highest quality of service to our clients.

Founded in 1996, Zhang & Associates, P.C. offers legal services to clients worldwide in all aspects of U.S immigration law. We have successfully handled over ten thousand immigration cases.

At Zhang & Associates, P.C., our attorneys and supporting professionals are committed to providing high-quality immigration and non-immigration visa services. We specialize in NIW, EB-1, EB-5, PERM, I-485 I-130, H-1B, O, L and J cases. In the past twenty-one years, we have successfully helped over ten thousand clients get green cards. If you plan to apply for a green card, please send your CV to Attorney Jerry Zhang ( for a free evaluation.

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