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Immediate US travel ban hits Australian dual nationals

January 30, 2017 Headline News No Comments Email Email

In lightning moves yesterday, US President Donald Trump signed executive orders banning the arrival of visitors or migrants from seven named countries for 90 days – and affecting Australians who are dual citizens of any of the seven countries.

The countries are Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. With limited exceptions, Australians who have travelled to those countries since 1 March 2011 must apply for a  visa if they want to visit the US as they are no longer eligible to use the Visa Waiver program.

Citizens of other largely Muslim nations, such as Indonesia, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Turkey and Pakistan, are not affected.

Qantas said yesterday it would offer refunds to any passengers affected and would change its processes and booking systems following advice from the US government regarding tighter entry conditions.

“Passengers booked on Qantas for travel to the United States who use a passport from Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Somalia, Syria, Yemen, Libya have a number of options, including a change to their destination or a refund,” Qantas said.

A spokesperson for Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop confirmed in a statement that the latest changes in the US would likely affect Australian dual nationals from the seven countries.

“We are aware that visa issuance to nationals of Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen has been suspended following the signing of the Executive Order on Protecting the Nation from Terrorist Attacks by Foreign Nationals on 27 January 2017.

“The Australian Embassy in Washington is engaging with US officials on the potential implications of the suspension for Australian travellers, including dual nationals.”

How would US border authorities know for sure that somebody arriving at an airport and presenting an Australian passport is a dual national? The answer has not been disclosed, though intending visitors have to state whether they hold another passport when they apply for a visa.

Yesterday’s sudden ban threw US airports and international airlines into confusion. US authorities detained travellers arriving at US airports within hours of the measures being signed. Many of the travellers were in the air when Trump signed the orders. Airline flight crews are affected too.

Yesterday afternoon, Australian time, a US federal court granted an emergency stay blocking the deportation of migrants held at airports, who arrived after Trump’s sudden move.

The federal court for the Eastern District of New York issued the stay, which is apparently effective right across the US.

The stay means that none of the travellers held at airports after the ban can be sent back – but it doesn’t give them the right to enter the US either, leaving them in a grey area, potentially held indefinitely at the airports. No further visas will be issued to citizens of the seven named countries for at least 90 days.

In an email sent to airlines around the world, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) confirmed that Trump’s ban also applied to airline flight crew.

US Customs and Border Protection briefed IATA about the new rules, the email said. According to Reuters, the IATA email stated that passport-holders from states such as Iran, including cabin crew, would be banned from entering the US.

While Trump’s order did not target the Visa Waiver program, under which hundreds of thousands of Australian visitors enter the US, suspicion persists that the Visa Waiver program is likely to be next. See: US Visa Waiver program likely to face suspension


Written by Peter Needham

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