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The US has set new criteria for visa applicants from six mainly Muslim countries and all refugees, requiring them to have a “close” family or business tie to the United States.

The new rules, affecting people from Iran, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen, come into force on June 29.

They were issued after the Supreme Court partially restored President Donald Trump’s travel ban.

Donald Trump’s controversial executive order had been blocked by lower courts.

According to the new rules, for the next 90 days those without a close relationship – defined as a parent, spouse, child, son or daughter-in-law, or sibling – will not be able to enter the US.

The definition of “close” relationships excludes grandparents, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, in-laws, extended family and grandchildren.

Also exempt from the new rules are those with business or educational ties to the US.

Image source Flickr

However, the guidelines specifically state that the relationship must be formal, documented and formed in ordinary course, rather than for the purpose of evading the executive order.

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Those who already hold valid visas are not affected. Dual nationals who travel on their passport from the unaffected country will also be allowed entry.

The rules come into effect at 20:00 Washington time.

However, lawyers both for and against the ban have warned that the new restrictions – which will remain in place until the Supreme Court issues a final ruling – could open the door to a flood of legal challenges.

However, the Supreme Court will not be reviewing the case until October – which will mean the 90-day period will be largely done.

The court also approved the 120-day ban on refugees entering the US, allowing the government to bar entry to refugee claimants who do not have any “bona fide relationship” with an American individual or entity.

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Donald Trump’s administration has put a cap on the number of refugees it is willing to accept at 50,000, which the State Department said would be reached in the next two weeks.

Rights groups have been fighting President Trump’s executive order for the last five months.

President Trump said the order was needed to stop terrorists entering the US, but critics said it was a ban on Muslims.

The order was first signed in February, but was blocked by the courts. A revised order was halted by a judge in Hawaii just hours before it was supposed to go into force in March.

President Donald Trump called the court’s decision a “victory for our national security.

President Donald Trump has signed a new executive order to review a temporary visa program used to place foreign workers in high-skilled US jobs.

The order directs agencies to enforce government rules on excluding foreign contractors from bids for government projects.

President Trump signed the so-called Buy American, Hire American order on a visit to a tool factory in the Wisconsin.

The order is aimed at fulfilling his “America First” campaign promises.

However, it falls way short of Donald Trump’s campaign pledge to end the H-1B visa program.

President Trump will direct the departments of State, Justice, Homeland Security and Labor to propose reforms to the scheme, which allows American employers to bring foreign workers to fill US jobs.

“With this action we are sending a powerful signal to the world that were going to defend our workers, protect our jobs and finally put America first,” Donald Trump said at the Snap-On Inc headquarters in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

Melania Trump used an H-1B visa in her early days as a model in New York.

The administration’s goal is to ensure such visas are given to the most qualified or highest-paid applicant, according to two senior officials.

The four departments will then submit their findings to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and release a report in 220 days.

In 2016, Disney was accused of taking advantage of the H-1B visa scheme to lay off American technology workers, who were forced to train their foreign replacements.

The government allows 85,000 immigrants each year through the H-1B visa program, which is reserved for foreign nationals in “specialty occupations” and is largely used by the technology industry.

The US government uses a lottery system to grant 65,000 visas every year and randomly distributes an additional 20,000 to graduate students.

In recent years, the US has been overwhelmed by applications for the program.

However, the number of applicants fell to 199,000 in 2017, down from 236,000 in 2016, according to US Citizenship and Immigration Services.

A senior Trump administration official argued on April 17 that the H-1B visas are supposed to be awarded to highly qualified workers, but often bring in less skilled employees who earn lower wages than those they are meant to replace.

Under the new order, the H-1B visa would no longer serve as a cheap way for companies to replace US workers, the official added.

Tech companies contend the program is used to recruit top talent, but some of the H-1B visas are also used for outsourcing firms. Critics say these undercut unemployed Americans and fill lower-level information technology jobs.

Indian nationals are the largest group of recipients of the H-1B visas issued each year.

In 2016, more than 15% of Facebook’s US employees used a temporary work visa, according to a Reuters analysis of US Labor Department filings.

The executive order will also focus on reviewing waivers in free-trade agreements and whether they allow foreign companies to undermine American companies in the global government procurement market.


Egyptian student Emadeldin Elsayed has agreed to voluntarily leave the US after posting on Facebook that the world would thank him if he killed Donald Trump.

The 23-year-old student pilot was not charged with a crime but the authorities sought to deport him, his attorney, Hani Bushra, said.

Immigration authorities said they would allow Emadeldin Elsayed to return home voluntarily as long as he departed by July 5.

Emadeldin Elsayed is being held in a jail in California after his visa was revoked.

Photo Facebook

Photo Facebook

Hani Bushra said on March 7 that Emadeldin Elsayed’s detention was illegal.

“He’s being detained, I think, primarily because he’s a Muslim and he’s a Middle Easterner,” Hani Bushra told the AP news agency.

“This kid is going to become a poster boy for hating America.”

Secret Service agents interviewed Emadeldin Elsayed in early February after he posted a photo of Donald Trump on Facebook and wrote he was willing to serve a life sentence for killing the billionaire, and the world would thank him, Hani Bushra said.

Emadeldin Elsayed had said earlier that he never intended to hurt anyone. He said he wrote the post because of Donald Trump’s comments about Muslims.

Donald Trump, a front-runner in the race for the Republican nomination for the presidency, has promised a crackdown on immigration. He has vowed to build a wall along the entire Mexican border and called for a temporary ban on Muslims entering the United States.


The US State Department has announced it will tighten travel restrictions on foreigners who visit the country without needing full visas.

About 20 million people from 38 countries enter the United States each year under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP).

The move has come under increased scrutiny since last month’s attacks in Paris, with lawmakers expressing concern that militants could get into the US.

Under changes that are be submitted to Congress, all countries in the scheme would be asked to issue “e-passports”.US Visa Waiver Program after Paris attacks

Their registrations would come under greater scrutiny from US agencies, and travelers would also be screened to see if they had traveled to militant-held areas.

The Department of Homeland Security will also ask Congress for additional powers, including increase fines for airlines that fail to verify passport data.

The changes will “enhance our ability to thwart terrorist attempts to travel on lost or stolen passports”, White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters in Paris, where President Barack Obama is attending UN talks on climate change.

The Visa Waiver Program currently allows people from designated countries to visit the US for 90-day stays without getting a visa.

Several of the suspected perpetrators of the Paris terror attacks were from Belgium and France, which are countries on the list.

President Barack Obama has signed into law a bill that would block the entry of any UN ambassador whom the US says has engaged in “terrorist activity”.

The law came as a response to Iran’s pick of Hamid Aboutalebi as UN envoy.

Hamid Aboutalebi was linked to the student militants who overran the US embassy in Tehran in 1979.

The US has already denied Hamid Aboutalebi a visa, and Barack Obama said he would treat the new law as “advisory”.

Iran has lodged a formal complaint with the UN over the rejection.

Hamid Aboutalebi was linked to the student militants who overran the US embassy in Tehran in 1979

Hamid Aboutalebi was linked to the student militants who overran the US embassy in Tehran in 1979 (photo Iranian Presidency)

The bill that Barack Obama signed into law on Friday passed both houses of Congress handily following uproar over Hamid Aboutalebi’s links to the students who seized the US embassy in Tehran in 1979 and held the American diplomats hostage.

Hamid Aboutalebi has said that he acted merely as a translator on a couple of occasions for the hostage-takers, an account corroborated by some of the activists.

A senior political adviser to President Hassan Rouhani, he has previously served as the Iranian ambassador to Italy, Belgium and Australia.

In a statement on Friday upon signing the bill, Barack Obama said: “I share the Congress’ concern that individuals who have engaged in such activity may use the cover of diplomacy to gain access to our nation.”

However, Barack Obama said the law could effectively curtail his power under the US constitution to receive or reject ambassadors, and thus he said he would treat the law “as advisory in circumstances in which it would interfere with the exercise of this discretion”.

Under the 1947 Headquarters Agreement, the US is generally required to grant visas to persons invited to the UN in New York.

Iran’s deputy envoy at the UN, Hossein Dehghani, has asked Committee on Relations with the Host Country for a meeting over the decision, saying the US had violated its legal obligations under international law.

“This decision of the US government has indeed negative implications for multilateral diplomacy and will create a dangerous precedence and affect adversely the work of intergovernmental organizations and activities of their member states,” Hossein Dehghani warned.

Iran has insisted it will not replace Hamid Aboutalebi as its new envoy to the UN in New York and accused the US of acting illegally by refusing a visa to the diplomat.

According to a senior Iranian official, they would “pursue the matter via legal mechanisms” with the United Nations.

The US accuses Hamid Aboutalebi of links to the group that seized the US embassy in Tehran in 1979, an incident that soured ties between the countries.

Hamid Aboutalebi says that he only acted as a translator for the group.

The US accuses Hamid Aboutalebi of links to the group that seized the US embassy in Tehran in 1979

The US accuses Hamid Aboutalebi of links to the group that seized the US embassy in Tehran in 1979

Congress passed a bill last week that would allow the US to refuse an ambassadorial selection if the candidate posed a security risk.

Earlier this week, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif condemned the move by US Congress.

He characterized those in favor of the bill as “a group of radicals” and said the move would not influence Iran’s policies.

Although the bill still requires the signature of the president before it can become law, Congress appears to have succeeded in getting Hamid Aboutalebi barred.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said President Barack Obama “shared the intent of the bill”, and would not issue a visa.

Under international law, the US as the host nation for the UN is obliged to grant visas to states’ representatives.

In the most high-profile similar case, the US refused a visa to Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat to speak at the UN in 1998. The UN condemned that decision.

The UN has not yet commented on Hamid Aboutalebi’s situation.

Hamid Aboutalebi has previously served as Iran’s ambassador to Belgium, the EU, Italy and Australia. He has said he was not part of the group that took over the US embassy, and was only later asked to translate for the students.

Fifty two Americans were held for 444 days during the 1979’s hostage crisis.

The hostage crisis was part of the revolution that overthrew Iran’s monarchy and installed the Islamic republic.

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The US has refused to issue a visa to Hamid Aboutalebi – Iran’s nomination for UN ambassador – who was involved in seizure of the US embassy in 1979.

The decision in effect bars Hamid Aboutalebi from taking up the role at the UN, which is based in New York.

Hamid Aboutalebi was linked to the student group that took dozens of people hostage at the embassy in Tehran.

President Barack Obama has come under intense pressure from the US Congress not to allow him to enter the country.

Earlier this week, the White House told the Iranian government its selection of a one-time student revolutionary to be UN ambassador was “not viable”.

Hamid Aboutalebi, Iran's nomination for UN ambassador, was involved in seizure of the US embassy in 1979

Hamid Aboutalebi, Iran’s nomination for UN ambassador, was involved in seizure of the US embassy in 1979 (Photos International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran)

A spokesman for Iran’s mission to the UN, Hamid Babaei, described the decision as “regrettable” and said it contravened international law.

The US House of Representatives and the Senate have both voted in favor of a bill barring Hamid Aboutalebi from the US. It still requires the signature of the president before it can become law.

Iran says Hamid Aboutalebi is one of its most experienced diplomats and stands by his nomination.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said on Friday the UN and Iran had been told “that we will not issue a visa to Mr. Aboutalebi”.

He did not say whether President Barack Obama would sign the bill but said the president shared the sentiments of Congress.

In an interview with an Iranian news site last month, Hamid Aboutalebi said he was not part of the group that took over the US embassy and was only later asked to translate for the students.

The 52 Americans were held for 444 days during the crisis.

It is believed the US has never before denied a visa for a UN ambassador and correspondents say there is concern among diplomats about the precedent that could be set.

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