On January 31, 2020, the President signed a Proclamation imposing visa and admission restrictions on Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Nigeria, Sudan, Tanzania and Myanmar (Burma). Restrictions for these countries are limited to immigrant visa (“green card”) programs and include individuals seeking permanent resident status through family or employment-based sponsorship, or pursuant to the Diversity Lottery program. The restrictions will take effect February 21, 2020.
WHAT THIS MEANS FOR EMPLOYERS AND FOREIGN NATIONALS
- For nationals of Kyrgyzstan, Nigeria, Eritrea and Myanmar (Burma): Eligibility for immigrant visas is suspended, with limited exceptions where eligibility is based on having provided assistance to the U.S. government.
- For nationals of Sudan and Tanzania: Nationals from these countries will no longer be eligible to participate in the annual Diversity Lottery program.
- Foreign nationals who have already been issued immigrant visas are not affected by the new restrictions.
- Foreign nationals from these countries may still be issued nonimmigrant (temporary) visas, such as business visitor visas, student visas and temporary work visas. However, these individuals should expect increased scrutiny in visa issuance and at ports of entry to the U.S.
- Foreign nationals who believe they may be subject to the restrictions should consult with immigration counsel before departing from or planning travel to the U.S.
EXEMPTIONS UNDER EXPANDED TRAVEL BAN
The following individuals from the covered countries are exempt from the expanded travel ban:
- U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents (green card holders).
- Foreign nationals admitted or paroled into the U.S. on or after the effective date.
- Foreign nationals with valid travel documents that are not visas issued on the effective date or thereafter.
- Dual nationals traveling on a passport from a non-designated country.
- Foreign nationals traveling on diplomatic visas.
- Individuals already granted asylum and refugees granted admission to the U.S.
- Individuals granted withholding of removal, advance parole, or protection under Convention Against Torture.
PRIOR TRAVEL BANS REMAIN IN EFFECT
The existing admission restrictions for foreign nationals from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Yemen, North Korea and Venezuela remain in place. These restrictions have been in place since December 4, 2017. Country specific information is available from the U.S. Department of State and the Department of Homeland Security.
Obtaining a Waiver
An application for a waiver may be made to the Department of State through a consular post abroad. To obtain a waiver, an applicant must demonstrate undue hardship if entry were denied, entry would not pose a threat to national security and entry is in the national interest. In practice, waivers are discretionary and rarely granted.