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Temporary Restraining Orders prohibits Enforcement of Most Travel Restrictions included in Indefinite Travel Ban/Entry Bar Under New Executive Order: On October 17 and 18, 2017, U.S. federal District Court judges in Hawaii and Maryland each issued a nationwide temporary restraining order (TRO), preventing the U.S. government from enforcing most of the travel restrictions included in the indefinite travel ban/entry ban that was scheduled to go into effect on October 18, 2017 (see details in the September 28 email below).  The Trump Administration is expected to appeal the courts’ decisions and could seek an emergency stay of the TROs.  ISSS is closely monitoring the situation and will provide further updates as they develop.

The TROs mean that nationals of Chad, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen should be able to apply for U.S. visas and enter the United States if they are otherwise admissible, but restrictions could be reimposed if the TROs are overturned on appeal.  Notwithstanding the court order, nationals of the six countries remain subject to lengthy security checks under the Trump Administration's extreme vetting policies, as well as heightened scrutiny at U.S. ports of entry.  

Indefinite Travel Ban/Entry Bar Under New Executive Order: On September 24, 2017, President Trump issued a presidential proclamation pursuant to Section 2(e) of Executive Order 13780, thereby imposing new travel restrictions on certain nationals of Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela and Yemen.  The new, country-specific restrictions follow a U.S. government review of worldwide visa security measures and the expiration of the Administration's previous travel ban.  For detailed, up-to-date information on the travel ban/entry bar, please visit NAFSA’s Travel Advisory on the Section 2(e) Entry Ban.

Greater Scrutiny for Visa Applicants at U.S. Consular Offices: The U.S. Department of State has ordered U.S. consulates to increase the screening of visa applicants and restrict the number of visa appointments held each day.  Visa officers will conduct more intensive interviews to determine whether visa applicants are eligible for the immigration category they seek and will have more discretion to order additional security checks beyond the regular background checks that all visa applicants undergo. These new processes, and the limits on the number of visa interviews, are likely to cause longer waits for interview appointments, and longer waits for passports with visas to be returned after the interview.  For detailed information on how to apply for an F or J visa and approximate wait times for visa interviews and visa application processing, please visit the U.S. Department of State’s website.

Foreign nationals flagged by a US consular officer for additional security screening will be asked to complete new visa application questions and may be asked to provide the following additional details:

  • Five years of public social media account information, email addresses and phone numbers
  • All prior passport numbers
  • 15 years of residence, employment and travel history (including source of travel funds)
  • The names of all children, siblings and current and former spouses

Though not every visa applicant will be subject to the new questions, foreign nationals may wish to prepare for the possibility that they will be asked to respond. Gathering social media, travel, work and residence history, details of prior passports and the like before a visa appointment can help minimize delays in the event a traveler is asked to provide additional information.  

New Restrictions regarding Electronic Devices on some Flights to U.S. and U.K.: The governments of the United States and the United Kingdom are now prohibiting travelers on direct flights bound for the U.S. or the U.K. from certain Middle Eastern and North African countries from carrying laptops, tablets and other devices in the passenger cabin. Restricted devices may be packed in checked baggage if otherwise permitted. Cellphones and smartphones are permitted in passenger cabins but must meet size limits on UK-bound flights.  For detailed information on the new restrictions regarding electronic devices on travel to the U.S., please consult the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s (DH) FAQ and factsheet.  For detailed information on the new restrictions regarding electronic devices on travel to the UK, please refer to the UK government’s FAQ.