U.S. visa applicants denied entry by the Trump administration’s ban on travelers from 13 countries can now seek re-adjudication or reapply, the U.S. Department of State announced this week.
Among the 13 countries were seven predominantly-Muslim nations in the Middle East and Africa that have significant issues with terrorist organizations. The Trump travel ban, which was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court, also included narco-terrorism-linked Venezuela, rogue dictatorship North Korea, and theocratic terrorist-state Iran. The latter two pose nuclear and cyber threats to the United States.
The State Department’s announcement came a week after FBI Director Christopher Wray told a Senate panel the U.S. relies heavily on information from an applicant’s country of origin to screen them.
Wray conceded that America could not trust many of the countries listed in former president Trump’s travel ban to provide accurate information, if any at all, on travelers who may be seeking to enter the U.S. with nefarious intentions.
However, in a statement to Breitbart News on the same day Wray testified, the Biden administration proclaimed the U.S. government alone could effectively vet U.S. visa applicants from the terror-prone countries before they are allowed to roam American communities.
According to the State Department, Biden is moving forward with allowing U.S. visa-seekers from countries covered by Trump’s travel ban despite the FBI director’s testimony.
Ned Price, a spokesperson for the State Department, announced Monday applicants will “no longer be denied on the basis of nationality”:
Applicants from the affected countries may no longer be denied on the basis of nationality, and the Department has taken a number of steps to ensure that applicants previously refused visas under [the now rescinded Trump travel ban] will not have future visa applications prejudiced in any way by those prior decisions.
Biden’s executive order to revoke the previous administration’s travel ban required the State Department to complete a report within 45 days containing a proposal to reconsider the visa applications of individuals who were issued denials under the Trump travel ban. The proposal has reportedly been shared with the White House.
Referring to the findings, Price explained:
The Department explored every possible avenue under the law for providing relief to affected individuals. Those whose immigrant visa applications received a final refusal on or after January 20, 2020, due to the [Trump travel ban] may seek re-adjudication without resubmitting their application forms or paying any additional fees, provided the underlying visa petitions remain valid.
Under current regulations, those whose immigrant visa applications were denied prior to January 20, 2020, may also be reconsidered, but these individuals must submit new applications and pay a new application fee.
State Department officials will not consider any previous visa application denial due to the travel ban in their re-adjudication process.
Nevertheless, Price noted the government is still barring individuals selected in the diversity visa lottery program during the Trump administration from obtaining visas if they have not received one already because “the deadlines for visa issuance in those fiscal years have expired.”
In other words, those individuals can go through the diversity visa lottery again but have no redress for denials issued under the Trump travel ban.
The goal of the diversity visa lottery is to accept applicants from countries with record low immigration rates to the U.S.
According to State Department figures released last September, the Trump travel ban denied more than 40,000 people entry into the United States. The ban came in the wake of terrorist attacks on U.S. soil during the Obama-Biden administration.
By the end of the Trump administration, affected countries included Eritrea, Iran, Kyrgyzstan, Libya, Myanmar, Nigeria, North Korea, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tanzania, Venezuela, and Yemen.
Three of those countries — Iran, Syria, and North Korea — are U.S.-designated state-sponsors of terrorism.
Jihadi groups such as the Islamic State (ISIS), al-Qaeda, and Boko Haram operate in many countries previously covered by the ban, according to the State Department’s latest annual country report on terrorism. The report added Venezuela which is known to sell passports and identification documents and is also home to members of Iran’s narco-terrorist proxy Hezbollah.
Yemen is home to the Iran-aligned Houthi rebels, a group fueling what the United Nations calls one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises.
The Biden administration reversed Trump’s proposal to list the Houthis as a terrorist organization.