IMPORTANT NOTE: This article refers to a Trump-issued travel ban that is currently awaiting judicial action. See Supreme Court Will Decide Whether Trump's Ban on Travel From Majority Muslim Countries Is Permissible.
On September 24, 2017, President Trump issued an executive order extending and amending the travel restrictions he previously imposed in March. (See "Who Does the September, 2017 Travel Ban Executive Order Impact?" for details.) If you or a loved one cannot enter the United States due to the travel ban, a waiver may be available under certain conditions, allowing you to enter the United States despite the ban.
The September 2017 executive order has a two-phase rollout. The first phase extends the previous travel ban and its associated guidance through October 17, 2017 (except that the restrictions on Sudan ended on September 24, as the administration removed it from the travel restriction list).
Under this previous travel ban, a waiver is available for those who would experience undue hardship subject to certain conditions, and those who have a "bona fide" relationship with a person or entity in the United States.
On October 18, 2017, phase two of the September 2017 executive order begins. At this time, the previous waiver rules and the associated "bona fide" relationship exception expire. You will be able to apply for a waiver pursuant to the September 2017 executive order, as described in this article, as of October 18, 2017.
The executive order does not set out precise instructions to apply for this waiver, but it does indicate that a consular officer or a designated officer of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) can issue the waiver. This means that you should be prepared to demonstrate how you qualify for a waiver at your visa interview at the U.S. consulate abroad, and at the time you enter the United States and speak to a CBP officer.
The September 2017 executive order lays out specific conditions under which consular and CBP officers can grant a waiver. The waiver is discretionary, which means that no applicant is legally entitled to a waiver—it’s up to the opinion of the person deciding your case. A waiver can be granted to an applicant for a visa or entry into the United States only if:
Notice that the requirements are joined by "and," so you must demonstrate all three aspects to the officer in order to qualify.
The executive order goes on to list several examples of appropriate situations for a waiver to be issued for a visa or entry into the United States, including to an applicant who:
Note that this waiver addresses only situations where someone is ineligible for a visa or to enter the U.S. based on the travel restrictions set forth in the executive order. All other standard requirements for visa issuance and admission still apply to your application, and you may require a separate waiver if you do not meet those requirements.
Waivers are issued on a case-by-case basis, and the executive order prohibits consular and CBP officers from issuing waivers to groups or categories of applicants.
In order to apply for a waiver of inadmissibility due to the September 2017 executive order, you should apply for a visa at the consulate abroad according to the normal procedures. Gather and bring documentation to prove that you meet the three conditions listed at the beginning of the previous section.
If there are any confusing or unusual aspects of your situation, you may want to write a letter for the officer to keep in your file explaining those aspects, in case the officer needs to hold your file for further review after the interview.
At the interview, you should thoroughly explain how you meet the three required conditions. Matching one of the ten examples listed above is not necessary, but it may help demonstrate your qualification. Even if you match one of the ten examples, that by itself is not sufficient—you still must prove how you meet the three primary conditions.
If the consulate grants the waiver and issues a visa to you, CBP officers might still ask similar questions at the border when you enter, so you should carry a copy of all evidence when you enter the United States.