Categorized | USA, Saudi Arabia

New US Visa Rules Come into Force Targeting 6 Muslim Countries

NOVANEWS
  • A Saudi family embrace as members arrive at Washington Dulles International Airport in Dulles, Virginia, U.S., on June 26, 2017.
    A Saudi family embrace as members arrive at Washington Dulles International Airport in Dulles, Virginia, U.S., on June 26, 2017. | Photo: Reuters
Civil liberties groups express concerns as measures are imposed.

Visa applicants from six Muslim-majority countries must have a close family or formal business ties to the United States to be admitted into the country.

RELATED: US Supreme Court Allows Revised Version of Trump ‘Muslim’ Travel Ban

The State Department issued the guidelines to all U.S. embassies and consulates late on Wednesday, after the Supreme Court on Monday partially restored President Donald Trump’s executive order that barred most U.S. travel by citizens of the six nations for 90 days.

The ban will take effect at 8 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time on Thursday and remain in place until the court issues a final ruling on the matter.

Visas that have already been approved will not be revoked, but new applicants from Syria, Sudan, Somalia, Libya, Iran and Yemen must prove a relationship with a parent, spouse, child, adult son or daughter, son-in-law, daughter-in-law or sibling already in the United States to be eligible.

The guidelines said close family “does not include grandparents, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins, brothers-laws and sisters-in-law, fiancés, and any other ‘extended’ family members.”

The same requirement will also be applied to refugees from all nations that are still awaiting approval for admission to the U.S.

As for business or professional travellers, the State Department said a legitimate relationship must be “formal, documented and formed in the ordinary course rather than for the purpose of evading” the ban.

Journalists, students, workers or lecturers who have valid invitations or employment contracts in the U.S. would be exempt from the ban.

Similarly, those eligible for family or employment based immigrant visa applications are also exempted.

Shortly after taking office, Trump ordered a 90-day travel ban affecting the six countries, plus Iraq, and a 120-day ban on entry to the United States for all refugees, but lower courts in Maryland and Hawaii blocked the order.

On Monday, the Supreme Court partially lifted lower court injunctions to allow the measure to take effect when travellers from the six countries and refugees have no “bona fide relationship” with an entity or person in the United States.

It has granted a full review of the travel ban when it returns for the fall term in October.

The new guidelines have been designed to clarify the Supreme Court’s ruling.

The initial travel ban led to chaos at airports around the world.

Critics say they are watching closely to see how they fare this time.

Omar Jadwat, the director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s immigrants’ rights project, said the new guidelines troubled him, “Initial reports suggest that the government may try to unilaterally expand the scope of the ban – for example, by arbitrarily refusing to treat certain categories of familial relationships as ‘bona fide.’ …These reports are deeply concerning”.

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