Shafaq News/ United States President Donald Trump issued an expanded version of his travel ban on Friday, an official said. The move was slammed by immigrant advocates and critics who say the policy discriminates against Muslims and others.
The US will suspend the issuance of visas that can lead to permanent residency for nationals of Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar and Nigeria, acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf said during a call with reporters.
Nonimmigrant visas were not affected for the additional countries, Wolf said. Those visas are given to people travelling to the US for a temporary stay. They include visas for tourists, those doing business or people seeking medical treatment. During December, for example, about 650,760 nonimmigrant visas were granted worldwide.
The US government will also stop issuing "diversity visas" to nationals of Sudan and Tanzania,
Those visas - which Trump has criticised in the past - are available by lottery for applicants from countries with low rates of immigration to the US.
Wolf said the six countries failed to meet US security and information-sharing standards, which necessitated the new restrictions. The problems Wolf cited ranged from subpar passport technology to a failure to sufficiently exchange information on "terrorism" suspects and criminals.
"These countries, for the most part, want to be helpful," Wolf said, "but for a variety of different reasons simply failed to meet those minimum requirements that we laid out."
The presidential proclamation will take effect on February 21.
The original travel ban - issued during Trump's first week in office in January 2017 - barred nearly all immigrants and travellers from seven Muslim-majority nations. It caused widespread outrage and chaos at airports across the US. The policy was revised amid court challenges, but the US Supreme Court ultimately upheld it in June 2018.
The existing version of the ban includes the Muslim-majority nations of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen. North Korea and Venezuela also face visa restrictions, but those measures affect relatively few travellers.
Those restrictions will remain in place, Wolf said.
In 2018 the US issued twice as many immigration visas to Nigeria than to the other five nations combined.
An official said the new measures were the result of failures by the six countries to meet US security and information-sharing standards.
"These countries, for the most part, want to be helpful but for a variety of different reasons simply failed to meet those minimum requirements that we laid out," acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf told reporters on Friday.
The current version of the ban covers Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen, while North Korea and Venezuela also face visa restrictions.