The Facts About the U.S. Travel Ban

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On September 24, 2017, United States President Donald Trump announced a travel ban affecting several countries. Following legal challenges, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the ban may be partially implemented.

Countries Affected by The Travel Ban
The ban on travel to the U.S. affects citizens of Iran, Yemen, Syria, Libya, Chad, North Korea and Venezuela. The ban, which supersedes two previous bans, is indefinite, although it may be lifted if affected governments address inadequate vetting procedures, as reported by the White House Press Secretary.

The ban affects citizens of the listed countries who have no connections with the U.S. There are specific requirements for each country. For example, citizens of North Korea and Syria are totally banned from entry while most visa categories for citizens of Chad, Yemen and Libya are suspended. There are some exceptions for citizens of Iran, Somalia and Venezuela.

Exceptions to the Travel Ban
The ban allows certain exceptions and the ruling made by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals added to those exemptions. The most important exception is that visitors who have family in the U.S. or a formal documented relationship with U.S. organizations, including universities and resettlement organizations, must be allowed entry, according to Reuters. Similarly, anyone with permanent residence or those who already have valid visas can enter the country, although their visas won't be renewed when they expire. Somalians don't face a total ban but have to go through additional screening before being granted a visa.

Refugees are excluded but only 45,000 will be allowed to enter the U.S. in 2018, according to State Department officials. Also excluded from the travel ban are citizens who have dual citizenship with another country. The State Department and Customs and Border Patrol are empowered to waive these rules on a case-by-case basis.

Court Challenges
There have been a number of court challenges to the travel bans. The travel ban was challenged in Hawaii and, on October 17, 2017, the Hawaiian U.S. District Court ordered that the government may not implement sections appertaining to predominantly Muslim countries. This ruling was partially overturned on November 13, 2017, at least temporarily, by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. While it's possible there'll be other challenges, the amended travel ban was in place at that time.

Timeline of Travel Bans and Subsequent Court Challenges
The first proclamation banning travel to the U.S. from seven predominantly Muslin countries was issued by President Trump on January 27, 2017. This was immediately challenged and an emergency injunction against it obtained, according to Fox News. On February 1, 2017, in an attempt to overcome the injunction, the administration exempted legal permanent residents, but to no avail. On February 9, 2017, the entire travel ban was suspended by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Subsequently, on March 6, 2017, President Trump issued a new order, valid for 90 days, which banned travel from six predominantly Muslim countries. Iraq was excluded from this ban. Permanent residents and visa holders were exempted. Several courts blocked its implementation, but on June 26, 2017, the Supreme Court approved a limited version that went into effect on three days later. Other legal challenges followed relating to the definition of bona fide relationships and the status of refugees.

On September 24, 2017, President Trump issued a proclamation for a third travel ban. Sudan, which was on the original list of banned countries was removed and Chad, North Korea and Venezuela added.