Immigration Updates: New York Residents Impacted by Trusted Traveler Program Updates, Travel Ban Expanded

Morgan Lewis
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Morgan Lewis

The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that it will no longer allow New York residents to enroll in Trusted Traveler programs in response to New York’s Green Light Law. In addition, the travel ban has been expanded to restrict travel to the United States for citizens of Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar, Nigeria, Sudan, and Tanzania.

Trusted Traveler Programs

New York residents with currently valid enrollment in Trusted Traveler programs, including NEXUS, Global Entry, SENTRI, and FAST, will not have their membership revoked; however, they will not be allowed to renew their status upon expiration. Those who have been conditionally approved and are awaiting interviews for full membership will be immediately removed from the program. Similarly, New York residents with pending applications that have not yet been approved will be denied enrollment. At this time, TSA PreCheck is not impacted by the suspension.

Enrollment in Trusted Traveler programs requires extensive background checks and an in-person interview. DHS stated that the suspension is in response to New York’s Green Light law, which allows residents without legal status to obtain driver’s licenses. The new law restricts DHS’s access to New York’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) database, and DHS stated that it is prevented from conducting the background and security checks required for enrollment in Trusted Traveler programs. Although other states have enacted laws permitting individuals without lawful status to obtain driver’s licenses, New York is currently the only state that has prohibited the DMV from sharing information with DHS.

DHS officials have noted that enrollment in the programs would be restored if the Green Light law were amended to allow DHS access to DMV records. New York Attorney General Letitia James announced on February 7 that the state intends on filing a lawsuit against DHS regarding this suspension.

Travel Ban Expansion

The administration recently announced the expansion of its travel ban, initially introduced three years ago. The ban, which formerly restricted travel for certain nationals of Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela, and Yemen, has been expanded to include restrictions for citizens of Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar, Nigeria, Sudan, and Tanzania. These additional restrictions will take effect February 21.

Under the expansion, citizens of Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar, Eritrea, and Nigeria will not be permitted to obtain immigrant visas, whereas citizens of Sudan and Tanzania will not be eligible for diversity visas. Citizens of these countries, however, will still be permitted to apply for nonimmigrant visas, and the restriction will not apply to nationals of these countries who already possess valid visas.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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