US

Jan 31 2020

President Trump Suspends Immigrant Visa Issuance to Foreign Nationals From Six Countries, with Exceptions

United States

At a glance

  • Starting February 21, foreign nationals from Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar (Burma), and Nigeria will not be issued most types of immigrant visas under a Presidential Proclamation signed by President Trump today.
  • Under the same order, foreign nationals from Sudan and Tanzania will not be issued Diversity Lottery immigrant visas starting on that date.
  • Current lawful permanent residents and those holding immigrant visas who have not yet entered the United States are exempt from the proclamation.

The issue

President Trump has signed a presidential proclamation that suspends certain immigrant visa issuance to foreign nationals from several countries, primarily in Africa, with some exceptions.

Foreign nationals from Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar (Burma), and Nigeria will not be issued any immigrant visas under the new order, with the exception of Special Immigrant visas based on having provided assistance to the U.S. government.

Also under the proclamation, foreign nationals from Sudan and Tanzania will not be issued Diversity Lottery immigrant visas. They are still eligible for other types of immigrant visas, however, including those pursuant to family-based and employment-based immigrant visa petitions.

The restrictions follow a travel ban currently in effect for certain nationals of Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela and Yemen in various visa classifications. Chad was initially part of the current ban, but was later removed. The current travel ban, which focused on nonimmigrant visa issuance, was challenged but then upheld by the Supreme Court in June 2018.

Nonimmigrant visa issuance is not affected by the proclamation.

Exemptions and waivers

The new proclamation incorporates the exemption and waiver provisions in the existing travel ban, so several classes of foreign nationals are exempt from the new restrictions. Those exempt include:

  • Current U.S. lawful permanent residents;
  • Dual nationals traveling on a passport from a non-restricted country;
  • Foreign nationals who hold a valid U.S. visa or advance parole; and
  • Those who are physically in the United States or hold a valid visa or other travel document on the effective date of the new proclamation. 

     

Those who are not exempt may request a waiver when applying for an immigrant visa. To be eligible for a waiver, a foreign national must demonstrate that they would suffer undue hardship if denied entry, and that their entry would not pose a threat to U.S. national security or public safety and would be in U.S. national interest. Waivers are discretionary and are difficult to obtain. 

What this means for nationals of affected countries

Starting February 21, foreign nationals who are outside the United States, do not have a valid nonimmigrant or immigrant U.S. visa, and do not meet any of the other exceptions to the Proclamation will not be able to receive immigrant visas and enter the United States as lawful permanent residents.

As a reminder, all foreign nationals - including those exempt from these restrictions - are subject to national security screening and the potential for additional vetting when applying for a U.S. visa or admission to the United States.

Fragomen will be monitoring all developments on the new proclamation and will provide updates as developments occur.

This alert is for informational purposes only. If you have any questions, please contact the immigration professional with whom you work at Fragomen.