President Donald Trump's sweeping ban on people seeking refuge in the United States and visitors from seven Muslim-majority countries caused confusion and panic among travelers, with some turned back from U.S.-bound flights. U.S. green card holders from Syria and six other Muslim-majority countries traveling outside the United States need to check with a U.S. consulate to see whether they can return, senior U.S. administration officials said on Saturday.
The ban affects travelers with passports from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. Afghanistan, Malaysia, Pakistan, Oman, Tunisia and Turkey were Muslim-majority countries not included in the order, a second official said.
New restrictions on immigrants and refugees in an executive order signed by President Donald Trump will mean legal permanent residents who have passports from the seven countries have to be cleared back into the United States on a case-by-case basis, an official told reporters in a briefing. "It's being cleared on a case-by-case basis and being moved expeditiously," the official said.
A few of the major aspects of Trump’s new ban are as follows …
TEMPORARY SUSPENSION OF VISAS FOR CERTAIN COUNTRIES
• The order bars the entry of foreign nationals from certain countries for 90 days. While no countries are specifically named in the order, it refers to a statute that would apply to seven Muslim-majority nations: Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia, Yemen and Iraq.
• There is an exception for certain types of visas, including for diplomats and the United Nations. The temporary halt is aimed at giving the Department of Homeland Security, the State Department and the Director of National Intelligence time to determine what information is needed from each country to ensure that visas are not issued to individuals posing a national security threat.
CHANGES TO SCREENING FOR IMMIGRATION PROGRAMS
• The order calls for a review to create a single process for screening people entering the country, which could include holding more in-person interviews, searches of an expanded database of identity documents or longer application forms.
• The order suspends the Visa Interview Waiver Program, which allows consular officers to exempt some applicants from face-to-face interviews if they are seeking to renew their temporary visas within a year of expiration.
• The order calls for the temporary halt of all refugee admissions for four months so the government can study the process and determine if additional checks are necessary, although there will be case-by-case exceptions.
• The order also implemented a blanket ban of all Syrian refugees until "sufficient changes" have been made to the refugee program, without giving more details.
• After the suspension is lifted, the government will give priority to applicants that are suffering religious-based prosecution, but only if they are minorities in their country. Once refugee admissions resume, fewer will be allowed. The 2017 cap was set at 50,000 people, compared to 85,000 designated by President Obama for 2016.
COMPLETING THE "BIOMETRIC ENTRY-EXIT TRACKING SYSTEM"
• The system is aimed at tracking foreign visitors' arrival and departure using information like finger prints. Former President Barack Obama's administration had aimed to start implementing biometric exit checks at the country's largest airports by 2018.