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Travel Ban Reversed: Visa Processing Restarted

Written By The Shapiro Law Group on March 12, 2021

Via Executive Order, President Biden has ended former President Trump’s ban on immigration from Muslim countries that was in place since January 2017. The change means that visas will now be issued to eligible individuals from the counties that were previously denied entry to the United States. It is advisable that individuals submit their applications for a visa via an immigration lawyer who can help guide them through the process.

Affected Countries

The Muslim travel ban went into effect in 2017 and was upheld by the US Supreme Court in 2018. The ban initially applied to refugees attempting to arrive from predominantly Muslim countries and was expanded to include many more countries, including Syria, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen, North Korea, Venezuela, Nigeria, Myanmar, Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, and Tanzania.

Ban Reversal Comes With a Catch

The President has ordered the State Department to resume processing visa applications from these countries, but it won’t happen immediately. He has asked for the Department of Homeland Security and State Department to both update and enhance vetting procedures and information sharing between both domestic and foreign agencies. This means that all future applications can expect an enhanced review and potentially longer processing times. The president is expecting a full report detailing enhanced procedures within 120 days, and a report for the total number of applications affected by the travel ban within 45 days. 

Reapplying

The reversal does require expedited processing of applications that were denied as a result of the ban. Individuals wishing to have their previous application reconsidered should act quickly to ensure that their application is processed soon. However, there is no established timeline and because of the number of applications that were denied, this process may take some time to complete. 

Broader Immigration Reform on the Horizon

Immigration reform was a key plank in the present administration’s platform. In addition to the reversal of the Muslim travel ban, many other items are on the table and it does appear that the president will move swiftly. 

Biden has already begun making many changes to the Department of State, Department of Homeland Security, ICE, and other federal agencies. As such, individuals whose applications were denied, delayed, or challenged should stay abreast of the latest developments. These changes could have a significant impact on an individual’s eligibility and his or her family’s ability to immigrate to the United States over the coming years.