On January 27, 2017, President Trump issued Executive Order 13769 (Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States) banning documented and undocumented citizens of Libya, Iran, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen from entering the United States to protect the country from terrorist attacks. This raised discriminatory accusations against the Trump administration because it specifically targeted Muslim populations within these countries. However, this did not delay its execution and the travel ban was enforced for a period of 90 days while the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) was suspended for 120 days.
Under the travel ban, U.S. consulate or embassy and the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers are authorized to provide waivers to those whose presence they consider would not be a threat to United States national security. But to be granted a waiver, the travel ban states, applicants have to prove that being banned from entering the U.S. would cause them “undue hardship.”
Additionally, applicants cannot appeal or sue over the matter in case of denial. Consequently, in addition to the list of seven countries President Trump proposed, the Secretary of Homeland Security along with the Secretary of State and the Director of National Intelligence, are allowed to deny entry to the U.S. to anyone they would consider to be a national threat.
HOW HAS THE TRAVEL BAN CHANGED?
A revised version of the executive order was published in March 2017. Executive Order 13780 illustrated Sudan’s removal from the list because of its collaboration with the United States in ensuring national security. However, three other countries have been added: Chad, targeting business tourists and non-tourist visas; North Korea, with immigrants and non-immigrants visas, and Venezuela, barring the country’s leaders and their family members from entering the U.S.
Most waiver applications are rejected for reasons people have no control over. Between December 2017 and January 2018, the Department of State received 8,406 visa applications from which 6,282 applicants were rejected for not meeting the criteria; 1,723 applications were “refused for reasons unrelated to the proclamation,” and another 271 were rejected under the executive order “with waiver consideration.” Only two out of 128 processed applications have been approved as of February 2018. As of March 2018, according to the Department of State (DOS), the rates of waiver approvals have increased with over 100 waivers granted. Nevertheless, the chances for applicants to obtain their non-immigrant or immigrant visas are still scarce because of the low percentage of applications that have been approved since the executive order was issued and the lack of knowledge and guidance of the DOS officers in issuing waivers under the new order.