Wednesday, October 27, 2021

US travel ban suspended for now: a look at the nations with potential health threats

The US government’s decision not to enforce the international travel ban is for anyone traveling in or out of the country or any place in which the USA government has a trade or business interest

The United States government decided this week not to enforce the travel ban imposed by President Donald Trump on non-American citizens from certain countries, including Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. Instead, the US government will only ban all US citizens from those countries if they cannot be easily medically screened for a potentially lethal communicable disease.

From Liberia, Nigeria, Iraq, Somalia, South Sudan, Syria, North Korea, Iran, Libya, and Yemen, the US government will continue to bar people with potentially dangerous medical histories and contagious diseases from entering the US because the CDC has determined they are not adequately safeguarded for inbound international travellers.

The US Department of State website said the decision was effective 24 August. “After careful consideration, the Department of State is taking the steps necessary to verify that the medical screening of visa applicants from certain countries meets appropriate standards. This process will not impact the ability of the US government to suspend the visa issuance process for those individuals whose medical status may be inconsistent with current requirements,” said the statement.

However, the US government will still place a temporary stop on visas for anyone who had at least one infectious disease during the previous 12 months, and not everyone who had had one. Certain situations like travelling with someone who has been exposed to one of the 15 diseases in question (or their spouse or caregiver) do not qualify as “infectious.”

The Trump administration has been vigorously defending its executive order signed on 27 January 2017 banning US citizens from all countries that met three conditions, including: (1) a person had to have a “close family relationship” with an American citizen; (2) not a citizen of the visa-exempted countries could sponsor a non-US citizen sibling, unmarried child, adult child, spouse, adult child’s spouse, son, daughter, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, or stepchild; and (3) a person didn’t have a “bona fide relationship” with any American business or educational institution, or need a US visa for a trip outside the US. A more recent version of the executive order states that not a US citizen or lawful permanent resident could obtain a visa unless there was “significant business or professional relationship with the United States,” or the person “engaged in substantial activities in the US with respect to the organization that would make it difficult or impossible for that individual to travel absent a visa.”

The executive order prompted months of litigation, as well as a separate class action lawsuit that sought to lift all travel bans immediately in the US and abroad. The court froze the order while the litigation was underway, and the US government did not appeal the decision.

The latest iteration of the ban has been temporarily blocked twice in Hawaii and Maryland.

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