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US Travel Ban Executive Order FAQs

  • VOA Staff

Hundreds of Syrian families wait to register at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) headquarters in Beirut, Lebanon, Jan. 30, 2017.

These FAQs are based on the executive order, titled "Protecting the Nation from Terrorist Attack into the United States" that was signed on Jan. 27, 2017. Some information comes from a voluntary traveler database.

Immigration

The president has suspended issuing visas for people from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria or Yemen for 90 days. During that time, screening procedures will be toughened and the secretary of Homeland Security, working with other Cabinet officials, will determine what information is needed from other countries to determine whether the individual seeking entry to the U.S. is not a security risk. Should countries be unable or refuse to comply, the order says they may end up on a future list.

What if I am a green card holder?

Green card holders are being admitted, but usually after some delay and negotiation. Reported delays range from one hour to six hours.

What if I have a visa?

Visa holders from the specified countries are most often being turned back at the port of entry before boarding. This is true of immigrant visas and non-immigrant visas. There are reports of visas being stamped "cancelled."

Visa holders who are allowed to board planes are meeting with mixed success in being admitted.

What if I have dual citizenship?

People who hold passports in the seven countries and countries that are not restricted appear to be gaining entry with the latter passports. Delays have been reported.

How about family members?

Family members of green card holders are being admitted.

What happens after the 90-day suspension?

A new list of countries will be drawn up based on the determination of information needed to ensure visitors are not a threat, and on which countries are providing that information.

What if I am a diplomat?

Exceptions are being made for diplomats, people with NATO visas or those traveling to work at the United Nations.

Refugees

If I have already undergone screening and am on the list for entry to the United States, can I still come?

All refugee admissions are suspended for 120 days. After that, you will have to undergo additional screening no matter where you are in the process.

However, the order says the United States will prioritize claims made on the basis of religious-based persecution provided "the religion of the individual is a minority religion in the individual's home country." Exceptions along these lines can also be made during the 120-day moratorium.

If I am a Syrian, can I come to the U.S. on a refugee basis?

No. Syrian refugees will not be processed or admitted until the United States decides it is in the national interest. However, the secretaries of state and defense are directed to identify a plan for a safe zone in Syria.

President Barack Obama said the United States would take 110,000 refugees in FY 2017, is that still on track?

No. The executive order calls for 50,000 refugees this year. Roughly 32,000 refugees have already been admitted in FY 2017. About 5,000 are Syrians.

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