New Rules for US Travel Ban to Require Close Family, Business Ties
The United States is set to implement new rules requiring visa applicants from six majority-Muslim nations to have a close relationship with a family member or business in the U.S. in order to be eligible to be admitted to the country.
A State Department cable seen by the Associated Press and Reuters late Wednesday, but not made public, outlined how consular officials should proceed with the visa applications for people from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.
The acceptable close family relationships include a parent, spouse, child, adult son or daughter, son-in-law, daughter-in-law or sibling who is already in the United States.
Relationships that do not meet the requirement include grandparent, grandchild, aunt, uncle, niece, nephew, cousin, brother-in-law, sister-in-law, fiancee or other extended family.
An acceptable business relationship has to be "formal, documented," and not created for the purpose of evading the travel ban. The cable said something like a hotel reservation would not meet the requirement.
The Associated Press said the new rules were due to go into effect at 8 p.m. Washington time Thursday (0000 GMT Friday).
Mattis Consults NATO on Afghan Strategy
U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is in Brussels, where he will consult with NATO allies on troop contributions and other support for Afghanistan, before announcing his own policy plan for the war-torn country.
The Pentagon has promised a new Afghanistan plan by mid-July, and Michael O’Hanlon, a senior defense analyst at the Brookings Institution, expects the new plan will not be a “repeal and replace” strategy, but rather a reformation of the Obama administration’s plan.
“Mattis and Trump are just repairing a mistake, in effect, that I think President Barack Obama made. And it is, in a sense, more properly carrying out Obama’s own strategy than Obama himself did,” O’Hanlon told VOA.
The strategy will still focus on Afghan troops taking the lead on security in the country, a critical point in the Obama administration’s military efforts since June 2013. But O’Hanlon explains why he thinks the past president made a mistake when he cut American military support in the country from about 100,000 U.S. troops in May 2011 to fewer than 10,000 American troops over a four-year span.
“That was probably too fast and too low, so by restoring just a few thousand more, I think we can get advisers out in the field with some of the key Afghan units and hopefully really stabilize the situation,” O’Hanlon said.
Mattis is expected to meet with General John Nicholson, the commander of international forces in Afghanistan, ahead of the NATO defense ministers meeting, where he will press some allies to increase their commitments to Afghanistan.
“We have to think about what else they can bring to bear to help,” Chief Pentagon spokesperson Dana White told VOA last week. “I know everyone wants to know what’s going to happen, but the secretary is being very deliberative and very thoughtful about what the commanders need and what’s necessary to change the tide.”