Travel Ban Countries List Likely to Expand; Visa Restrictions to Impact Nationals of Iran, France, Australia

January 24, 2020

Travel and visa restrictions continue to increase. The administration has confirmed recently that it is planning to expand the list of countries currently subject to the travel ban restriction. The administration did not comment on which countries would be added, but multiple news outlets have reported that Belarus, Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar (also known as Burma), Nigeria, Sudan, and Tanzania are on the list of possible additions.

Initially introduced over three years ago, and after a series of court challenges, the travel ban currently restricts travel for certain nationals of Libya, Iran, Somalia, Syria, Yemen, North Korea, and Venezuela. The travel ban regulations vary per country. Those subject to the travel ban may have the opportunity to file for a waiver in an effort to obtain a US visa and be admitted to the United States. Please note that US lawful permanent residents and dual nationals who are both US citizens and citizens of a travel-ban country are not subject to the travel ban. We will provide further updates once there is an official announcement. These changes could further impact global employers with operations and/or business travelers frequenting these destinations.

Additionally, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that, due to the October 3, 2018, termination of the 1955 Treaty of Amity, Economic Relations, and Consular Rights with Iran, Iranian nationals are no longer eligible for E-1 treaty trader and E-2 treaty investor status.

The E-1 treaty trader and E-2 treaty investor nonimmigrant visa classifications traditionally allow a foreign national from a treaty county to be admitted to the United States for the purposes of engaging in international trade or investing a substantial amount of capital into a US business. A list of eligible countries is maintained by the Department of State (DOS). As these visa categories are based on treaties or specific reciprocal legislation, the existence of a qualifying treaty or authorizing legislation is a threshold requirement for granting of the visa. Since the treaty in question with Iran has been terminated as of October 3, 2018, any visa applicants who filed applications after this date will receive a notice of intent to deny their application, while Iranians who currently hold E-1 or E-2 status may remain in the United States until their current status expires.

Further changes to the E-1 and E-2 nonimmigrant visa classifications include a reduction in visa validity from 60 months to 25 months for nationals of France who are applying for E visas on or after September 26, 2019. Visa validity for French citizens receiving L visas is limited to 17 months. There has also been a drastic increase in visa reciprocity fees for Australian nationals applying for certain US visas. For example, the visa reciprocity fee for an H-1B nonimmigrant visa increased to $1,295 from $105. E-1 and E-2 fees are $3,574 (there is no fee for the E-3), and the L visa fee increased to $1,790. Employers should be aware of and consider the additional financial burden of the costs involved in obtaining a US visa in these instances.


If you have any questions or would like more information on the issues discussed in this alert, please contact any of the following Morgan Lewis lawyers:

Washington, DC
Shannon A. Donnelly
Eleanor Pelta
Eric S. Bord

Laura C. Garvin