Message from David B. Austell on Presidential Proclamation

October 05, 2017

Editor's Note: 

Update October 25, 2017

Two U.S. District Courts have granted preliminary injunctions, effective October 17, 2017, to block enforcement of President Trump's
Proclamation ("travel ban") for six of the eight countries:

  • Chad
  • Iran
  • Libya
  • Somalia
  • Syria
  • Yemen

The Proclamation's bars on North Korea and Venezuela were not included in the TRO, and remain in effect. Information about the Presidential Proclamation ​of September 24, 2017 is continuously updated on the NAFSA website. This information is current as of October 24, 2017.

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Original Message

The International Students and Scholars Office Director David Austell sent this message to nationals of Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela, and Yemen to provide information on the Presidential Proclamation of September 24th.

To: Columbia University International Students and Scholars/Faculty from Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela, and Yemen
From: Dr. David B. Austell, Associate Provost and Director, ISSO
Subject: Presidential Proclamation of September 24, 2017
Date: 10-5-17

Dear Columbia Students and Faculty/Scholars from countries affected by the Proclamation:

As you are aware, on September 24th, 2017 President Trump issued a Presidential Proclamation entitled Enhancing Vetting Capabilities and Processes for Detecting Attempted Entry into the United States by Terrorists or Other Public-Safety Threats. The Proclamation states that the Trump administration determined that the specified countries had inadequate security procedures, information-sharing protocols, and terrorism-related risk indicators for their nationals seeking entry into the United States.

There are three major differences between this Proclamation and President Trump’s second Executive Order of last March 2017:

  1. The Proclamation involves different countries: it adds Chad, North Korea, and Venezuela, but it no longer includes Sudan.
  1. The Proclamation imposes different travel restrictions on different countries (as explained below).
  1. The Proclamation's travel restrictions are indefinite. However, federal agencies are directed to submit a report every 180 days with recommendations regarding countries to be removed, modified, or added.

Iraqi nationals were not included in the Proclamation and are not categorically excluded from entry into the United States (based on the Executive Order of March 2017). However, Iraqi nationals will be subject to unspecified "additional scrutiny" before they can be admitted into the United States.

EFFECTIVE DATE

  • Immediately effective for nationals of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen who do not have a bona fide relationship to a U.S. person or entity.
  • New restrictions take effect on October 18, 2017, including nationals of Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen, and Somalia who have a bona fide relationship with a U.S. person or entity, as well as nationals of Chad, North Korea, and Venezuela.

COUNTRY SPECIFIC RESTRICTIONS

Chad: Entry into the United States of all nationals of Chad as immigrants, and as non-immigrants on business (B-1), tourist (B-2), and business/tourist (B-1/B-2) visas is suspended.

Iran: Iranian nationals under student visas (F-1) and exchange visitor visas (J-1) are no longer banned outright, but are subject to unspecified enhanced screening and vetting requirements related to visa applications. Entry into the United States of Iranian nationals as immigrants and in other non-immigrant categories is suspended.

Libya: Entry into the United States of all nationals of Libya as immigrants, and as non-immigrants on business (B-1), tourist (B-2), and business/tourist (B-1/B-2) visas is suspended.

North Korea: Entry into the United States of North Korean nationals as immigrants and non-immigrants is suspended.

Somalia: All Somalian immigrant nationals are banned, and visas for non-immigrant Somalian nationals are subject to unspecified additional scrutiny.

Syria: Entry into the United States of all Syrian nationals as immigrants and non-immigrants is suspended.

Yemen: Entry into the United States of all nationals of Yemen as immigrants, and as non-immigrants on business (B-1), tourist (B-2), and business/tourist (B-1/B-2) visas is suspended.

Venezuela: Only certain Venezuelan government officials and their immediate family members are banned as non-immigrants on business (B-1), tourist (B-2), and business/tourist (B-1/B-2) visas. Venezuelan nationals with valid visas will be subject to “additional measures to ensure traveler information remains current.”

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EXCEPTIONS

  • The travel ban does not apply to U.S. legal permanent residents (“green card” holders) from the listed countries, nor to dual nationals who are traveling on a passport issued by a non-designated country. 
  • The travel ban is a “travel” ban and does not impact those lawfully present within the U.S. in a valid nonimmigrant status. Students, faculty, and scholars from the listed countries who are presently in the U.S. in valid non-immigrant status may remain in the U.S. until their nonimmigrant status expires. Those eligible for a change or extension of nonimmigrant status may also continue to remain in the U.S. if an application for a change or extension of status is timely field.
  • Students, faculty, and scholars present in the U.S. may pursue applications for lawful permanent residency if they are eligible. Those pursuing permanent residency may be eligible for an “advance parole” travel document, which, if granted, is another exception to the travel ban. Holders of an advance parole document may be re-admitted to the U.S.  following a trip abroad.
  • Valid visas currently held by nationals of the listed countries will not be revoked. This means that such nationals may continue to travel using those visas until they expire. However, we urge such nationals to exercise caution when they travel, as they still may be challenged at the airport itself.
  • The travel ban will be effective against those who wish to travel outside the U.S. once their visa expires.

WAIVERS

The Proclamation allows for consular officials, in their discretion, to waive the bans for nationals on a case-by-case basis. It states that such waivers may be appropriate for certain individuals, including individuals who have valid visas but are outside of the United States on the effective date of the proclamation and are seeking reentry; individuals who have established “significant contacts” with the United States prior to the effective date of the proclamation but are outside the United States; individuals who are seeking entry for "significant business or professional obligations"; individuals who are seeking entry to visit or live with a close family member who is a United States citizen, lawful permanent resident, or on a valid nonimmigrant visa, if denial of entry would cause “undue hardship”; Canadian permanent residents who have applied for visas within Canada; and United States government-sponsored exchange visitors.

CONCLUSIONS

The Proclamation attempts to avoid some of the strongest arguments made against Executive Orders E0-1 and E0-2 (which may avoid litigation over the Proclamation); it articulates a clearer rationale for its enactment, and it now targets some countries that are not Muslim-majority. It also provides more careful tailoring and appears designed to respond to some of the concerns which Columbia University articulated in its amicus brief re: EO effects on universities. Nonetheless, the unspecified “enhanced screening” that many people from affected countries will undergo will, in all likelihood, continue to burden colleges and universities in the United States and their students, faculty, staff, and scholars.

Given the provisions of the Proclamation detailed here, I strongly advise Columbia international students and faculty/scholars from affected countries to seek guidance from ISSO prior to any international travel.

Also, if you know of a colleague from the affected countries who is outside the United States, please let me know immediately.

Additional information regarding the Proclamation can be found on the ISSO website

Please also contact me directly at david.austell@columbia.edu if you have any questions or concerns. I can also be reached 24/7 via my iPhone at (917) 833-9635.

Clearly this Presidential Proclamation is cause for concern. Please know that ISSO and Columbia University stand ready to help to the extent we are able to support our international students and faculty/scholars from affected countries.

Kind regards,

David B. Austell, Ph.D.
Associate Provost and Director
Columbia University International Students and Scholars Office, and
Associate Professor of International Education (adjunct), Teachers College
Columbia University
524 Riverside Drive, International House North
New York, NY 10027
Phone: (212) 854-6263
Email: david.austell@columbia.edu