A federal judge on Tuesday put a halt to the State Department practice of not issuing visas to travelers from other countries when travel bans are in place.
The ruling, in response to a lawsuit, declares it unlawful for the State Department to use travel bans, which were issued to prevent the spread of COVID-19 by Presidents Donald Trump and Joe Biden, as a reason to stop processing visas for travelers who are otherwise eligible.
Travel bans are issued by a presidential proclamation and have been used to prevent non-citizens who are not permanent residents from entering the United States.
The lawsuit was filed by a group of private individuals and a coalition of immigration law firms with support from American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), over the State Department’s refusal to issue visas during the pandemic. They argued that a “travel ban” does not amount to a “visa ban,” tweeted one of the attorneys who filed the suit.
This lawsuit stemmed from travel bans issued during the pandemic to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus in the United States. Several bans, including on visitors from China, Iran, India, Brazil, South Africa, the Schengen Area, the United Kingdom and Ireland, remain in effect. The China ban has run the longest and was introduced early in 2020.
In November, the United States will reopen to fully vaccinated travelers from 33 countries including China, Brazil and most of Europe, the White House announced recently.
Among the largest groups of people affected by the ban were employees of American companies in technology and STEM fields. Hundreds of Indian technology workers who rushed home to tend to their sickened parents during a devastating wave of the delta variant that swept the country in late spring and early summer were stuck there as a result of the ban implemented by Biden.
By Mary Ann Koruth for NORTHJERSEY.COM
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