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UNITED STATES: Government Announces New Travel Restrictions on Six Countries and Updated Process for Evaluating Foreign Country Compliance

, 03/02/2020

The US president has signed a proclamation imposing new, tailored visa restrictions on six more countries that have failed to meet a series of security criteria. The countries in question are Burma, Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Nigeria, Sudan and Tanzania.

The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has also updated the methodology it uses to assess compliance with the security criteria established under Executive Order 13780 in 2017.

New Restrictions

The restrictions now placed on Burma, Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Nigeria, Sudan and Tanzania are less restrictive than those placed on Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela and Yemen in 2017: the proclamation only restricts entry on certain categories of immigrant visas. Family members can still visit their relatives, businesses can still employ qualified candidates, and other visits can take place on a temporary basis with a non-immigrant visa.

The proclamation applies to intending immigrants abroad who have not yet received an immigrant visa. Intending immigrants abroad who have a valid visa, but have not yet entered the United States, may still do so, as long as they meet all other conditions of admissibility under the Immigration and Nationality Act.

Further, legal permanent residents may continue to reside in the United States, as long as they continue to meet the terms of their residency.

The restrictions are temporary and may be removed or strengthened depending on whether the countries in question make meaningful improvements in meeting the security criteria.

NationalityRestrictions
BurmaSuspension of entry for Immigrants, except as Special Immigrants whose eligibility is based on having provided assistance to the U.S. Government.
EritreaSuspension of entry for Immigrants, except as Special Immigrants whose eligibility is based on having provided assistance to the U.S. Government.
KyrgyzstanSuspension of entry for Immigrants, except as Special Immigrants whose eligibility is based on having provided assistance to the U.S. Government.
NigeriaSuspension of entry for Immigrants, except as Special Immigrants whose eligibility is based on having provided assistance to the U.S. Government.
SudanSuspension of entry for Diversity Immigrants, as described in section 203(c) of the INA, 8 U.S.C. 1153(c).
TanzaniaSuspension of entry for Diversity Immigrants, as described in section 203(c) of the INA, 8 U.S.C. 1153(c).

Refined Methodology

Under to Executive Order 13780, DHS established security risk criteria all foreign governments are expected to adhere to in order to facilitate accurate and fair admissibility decisions under the Immigration and Nationality Act.

DHS's latest update included refining and modifying specific performance metrics for each criteria, collecting additional data on foreign practices, and weighting criteria based on their degree of significance to U.S. national security. For example, DHS now considers whether a foreign government reports lost and stolen passports at least every 30 days, instead of considering whether they have ever shared such information. By reporting regularly, DHS officers can determine passport validity with higher confidence.