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Revised Travel Ban Excludes Current Visa Holders but Continues to Raise Concerns For Higher Education

President Trump on Monday signed a new executive order temporarily barring nationals of six Muslim-majority countries — Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen — from entering the U.S. after enforcement of an earlier entry ban was halted by federal courts. The revised ban, which goes into effect March 16, does not apply to lawful permanent residents of the U.S. and individuals from the six nations who already have valid visas, including student and exchange visas.

The exemption of current visa holders from the entry ban represents a notable change from an original executive order authorizing an entry ban, which was signed by Trump on Jan. 27 and followed by the State Department provisionally revoking most visas granted to individuals from the affected countries (an action it subsequently reversed in response to court rulings). Some international students and scholars who held otherwise valid visas to enter the U.S. found themselves stranded abroad after the first order was signed, unable to board U.S.-bound planes to return to their campuses.

In another change from the previous order, the new order excludes Iraq from the list of banned countries.

Higher education groups largely described the newly revised entry ban as an improvement from the original but still highly problematic for international educational exchange and research collaborations. The order could depress enrollments of new applicants to American universities from the six countries and will prevent universities and university hospitals from bringing in new postdoctoral scholars, visiting faculty members and others from the six countries who don’t already have visas for 90 days.