On March 6, 2017, a United States Executive Order was issued announcing updated policies restricting travel to the United States by individuals from certain countries. Of immediate concern for international students and faculty is that the updated executive order will temporarily ban individuals from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen from entering the United States for a period of 90 days from the effective date of the order, which is March 16, 2017.
The U.S. government constantly reviews and refines its procedures, and we anticipate this situation will continue to evolve. The Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), the owner and administrator of the GMAT® exam, is closely tracking the orders and resulting legal challenges and we are committed to keeping our education community informed.
We understand this situation has caused confusion and concern. We have reached out to candidates from the affected countries to offer resources and support, as well as encourage them to continue pursuing their educational goals. GMAC is also encouraging candidates and schools to leverage the GMASS database to better connect with each other.
The executive order is entitled Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States. It revokes the prior executive order (EO 13769) signed by President Trump on January 27, 2017, which was on hold as a result of litigation.
Highlights of the new order include:
- Institutes a 90-day suspension of entry to the United States from citizens of the 6 countries: Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Yemen.
- Individuals from Iraq are not included on this list.
- The travel ban will apply to foreign nationals of the designated countries who are (i) outside the United States on the effective date of the order; (ii) did not have a valid visa as of January 27, 2017; and (iii) do not have a valid visa as of the date of this executive order.
- The executive order does not apply to lawful permanent residents (valid holders of U.S. “green cards) and certain other categories of foreign nationals seeking entry into the United States.
Most Recent Update
In June 2017, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled to allow partial implementation of the United States President’s executive order on travelers from six Muslim-majority countries and said they would give full consideration to the matter during the October term to determine the legality of the President’s executive order. While allowing the Administration to implement portions of the executive order, the Court also narrowed the scope of the travel and refugee bans. Guidance is starting to emerge which will hopefully provide a clearer picture of what the higher education community, especially international candidates who may or are applying to U.S. schools and students presently studying in the United States can expect now that a limited version of the President’s travel ban will take effect. Bottom line is that the travel ban being implemented by the Administration appears to most directly affect individuals without a valid visa. Although having said that, the ban does not prohibit issuance of a visa during the 90-day period if the individual can demonstrate a credible claim of a bona fide relationship with an entity in the United States, such as a university.
To learn more about this recent update and what it means for students studying or seeking to study in the United States, click here.
Background Information on This Executive Order
- To read information posted by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security click here; and also read Homeland Security Secretary Kelly’s statement on the executive order; as well as the Fact Sheet and Q&A released by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. (These documents were posted in March 2016.)
- According to the Fact Sheet, the executive order will affect travel by nationals of the six countries as follows – “For the next 90 days, foreign nationals from Sudan, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen who are outside the United States on the effective date of the order, do not currently have a valid visa on the effective date of this order, and did not have a valid visa at 5:00 eastern standard time on January 27, 2017, are not eligible to travel to the United States. The 90-day period will allow for proper review and establishment of standards to prevent terrorist or criminal infiltration by foreign nationals.” Again, the “effective date” of the order is March 16, 2017.
- The Executive Order does not apply to individuals who are within the United States on the effective date of the Order or to those individuals who hold a valid visa. Visas which were provisionally revoked solely as a result of the enforcement of Executive Order 13769 are valid for purposes of administering this Executive Order. Individuals holding valid F, M, or J visas may continue to travel to the United States on those visas if they are otherwise valid.
- The Executive Order does not affect F, M, or J visa holders if they currently have a valid visa on the effective date or held a valid visa on January 27, 2017 prior to the issuance of the Executive Order. With that said, travelers must have a valid visa to travel to the United States, regardless of the Executive Order. Travelers whose visa expires after the effective date of the Executive Order must obtain a new, valid visa to return to the United States.
Our graduate management education community is a wonderfully diverse and international community. GMAC’s purpose is to ensure no talent goes undiscovered, and we are committed to providing you with resources and acting in support of students pursuing graduate management education. Please refer to our resource page for international students for additional information.
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