Third Attempt at Travel Ban Partially Upheld After Block
On November 13, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit overruled an October restraining order that had blocked significant portions of the U.S. President's proclamation to implement new rules for inbound travel by certain nationals of eight countries.
The countries listed in the September 24 proclamation include: Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Yemen, Chad, North Korea, and Venezuela. The scope and effect of the entry ban varies by country and visa type, ranging from enhanced screenings to suspended entries. Several exemptions and waivers are possible. For all nationals of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen, the ban went into effect on September 24. For nationals of Chad and North Korea, the ban went into effect on October 18. Additionally, certain Venezuelan public officials are barred from entering the U.S. as of October 18. Entry restrictions are to be revisited and reconsidered after 180 days from the effective dates, and every 180 days after that. The proclamation suggests that restrictions or limitations on additional countries may be added to its scope.
As a result of the appellate court decision, the proclamation is in effect for nationals of Chad, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen who lack a bona fide claim to the U.S. Similar to appellate court rulings on earlier travel ban attempts, the panel of judges noted that "foreign nationals who have a credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States" would be allowed entry; this includes "grandparents, grandchildren, borthers-in-law, sisters-in-law, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, and cousins."
The restrictions for the applicable nationals of North Korea and Venezuela remain intact.
A similar appeals case is underway in the Fourth Circuit, where a Maryland federal judge had also issued a temporary restraining order against parts of the proclamation in October. That ruling is expected on December 8, while the Ninth Circuit will reeamine their case on December 6.
Guidance for Harvard Affiliates
The situation remains very fluid, and each individual's case is unique. Although parts of the third ban were halted and then enacted with a narrower scope, the U.S. administration will likely seek further legal action. It's also possible that the administration could issue another executive order or proclamation. Given the uncertainty, you're encouraged to heed the following advice:
Foreign nationals from the eight designated countries: The Harvard International Office (HIO) urges you to contact your HIO advisor before planning any international travel or needing to renew your visa stamp or obtain a new visa classification. See HIO's immigration updates and resources for more information. HIO can also provide you with contact information for immigration attorneys.
All other foreign nationals: Because other countries may be added to the proclamation's scope, we encourage you to contact your HIO advisor before planning any international travel or needing to renew your visa stamp or obtain a new visa classification. See HIO's immigration updates and resources for more information. HIO can also provide you with contact information for immigration attorneys.
U.S. citizens or foreign nationals planning to travel to one or more of the eight designated countries: The proclamation does not prohibit travel to the eight designated countries (although U.S. passports aren't valid for travel to, in, or through North Korea as of September 1, 2017). The potential exists, however, for reciprocal measures to be taken by the eight designated countries, meaning that they may deny visa applications or entry to U.S. travelers or other travelers. If you plan to travel to one of these countries, you should confirm with the embassy or consulate that issued your visa to determine if you will be permitted to enter that country. Be mindful that upon attempted re-entry to the U.S., you may face increased scrutiny and delays.
Register International Travel
Regardless of your international destination, we strongly encourage you to enter your itinerary and contact information in the Harvard Travel Registry. Doing so enables us to expedite assistance if you need help while abroad. In light of the current immigration climate, it will also enable us to advise you prior to departure if immigration policy changes may affect your trip.
- Expect security and customs delays and increased scrutiny upon attempted re-entry into the U.S.
- Give yourself extra time and be patient.
- Carry your passport, valid visa document and valid visa stamp (if applicable), a letter from Harvard attesting to your status, your resume/CV, and the HIO contact information (see below).
24/7 Immigration Assistance While Abroad
If you travel abroad and you encounter problems when attempting to re-enter the U.S., contact HIO's hotline at +1-857-302-3772 (outside of regular business hours) or HIO's main line at +1-617-495-2789 (during regular business hours).
The hotline should only be used for urgent immigration-related issues, which may include requests for clarifying your visa status or Harvard affiliation, or answering other questions from U.S. CBP officers or similar government officials.
Routine inquiries, such as guidance on your ability to travel, the risk of traveling, or the issuance of new or renewed visa documents, should be directed to HIO's main line during normal business hours.
For international medical and security emergencies, our Harvard Travel Assist program remains your primary resource.
A Message for the Harvard Community
Harvard's global community has long demonstrated its dedication to educational advancement and the pursuit of knowledge. We remain steadfast in our mission to support and enable Harvard's international travelers and activities. We share your concerns about this administration's directives on immigration, and we’ll continue to work with offices across the University and the country to advise, support, and advocate for you.
Mental Health Resources
We recognize the emotional strain that these events and the weight of uncertainty are placing on all of us. If you'd like to speak with a counselor or a mental health professional, contact one of the departments listed below.
- For students: Counseling and Mental Health Services, which is provided through Harvard University Health Services
- For employees: Employee Assistance Program, which includes free, expert, confidential consultations and referrals to professionals near your work or home
- For students and employees traveling abroad: Harvard Travel Assist, our 24/7 global emergency medical and security program, through which you can access English-speaking mental health professionals and connect to Harvard-specific and U.S.-based counseling resources