US president Donald Trump signed a revised executive order today (March 6). It restricts travelers to the US from six Muslim-majority countries for 90 days, and all refugees for 120 days—and contains some marked differences from an earlier order that caused chaos at US airports in January and was suspended by federal courts.
Iraq is off the list of banned countries now
As with the January order, visa issuance to citizens of Sudan, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen will be suspended for 90 days, but Iraqi citizens are no longer included in the ban. According to the fact sheet, after negotiations between the Iraq government and the US State Department, “Iraq will increase cooperation with the U.S. Government on the vetting of its citizens applying for a visa to travel to the United States.”
The order itself refers to Iraq as “a special case,” arguing that “the close cooperative relationship between the United States and the democratically elected Iraqi government, the strong United States diplomatic presence in Iraq, the significant presence of United States forces in Iraq, and Iraq’s commitment to combat ISIS justify different treatment for Iraq.” And it notes that the Iraqi government “has expressly undertaken steps to enhance travel documentation, information sharing, and the return of Iraqi nationals subject to final orders of removal.”
But the order still advises that Iraqi nationals seeking admittance to the US “should be subjected to additional scrutiny to determine if applicants have connections with ISIS or other terrorist organizations, or otherwise pose a risk to either national security or public safety.”
Visas already issued will be recognized this time
Crucially, travelers from the six banned countries who already have visas, and refugees who have already been given visas, won’t be turned away at the US border, as Quartz had earlier reported. “No visas will be revoked solely based on this executive order,” the FAQ says.
After the earlier order, some 60,000 visas were revoked. The current order seems to imply these visas will be reinstated. The FAQ says “any individual who had a valid visa either on January 27, 2017 (prior to 5:00 PM) or holds a valid visa on the effective date of the Executive Order is not barred from entry.”
The new executive order won’t go into effect right away
The effective date of the order is 12:01am EDT on March 16, which means that travelers from the six countries who are currently without documentation still have 10 days from the announcement to apply for visas to come into the US (although it is unclear whether any will be granted), and time to plan their travel.
Long-term US residents and dual-citizens are not affected by the new order
US Customs and Border Protection officers implementing the January executive order originally banned green card holders, and some dual-national citizens from listed countries were turned away. The White House says this won’t be the case with the new order. Dual-national citizens must be “traveling on a passport issued by a non-designated country,” however.
Religion is not mentioned this time
The earlier order instructed the US State Department to “prioritize refugee claims made by individuals on the basis of religious-based persecution, provided that the religion of the individual is a minority religion in the individual’s country of nationality”—a clause that indicated that the US was prioritizing Christians, and gave strength to criticism that the order was a “Muslim ban.” Neither the fact sheet nor the FAQ on the new order mentions religion at all.
Update, March 6, 12:01pm: This story has been updated with details from the executive order, the text of which was released after the publication of the White House’s FAQ and fact sheet about the order.