In agreeing to review two rulings by the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals and 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on President Trump’s March 6, 2017, Executive Order, the Supreme Court reinstated certain provisions of the Executive Order that the lower courts had blocked. The March 6th Executive Order entitled “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States” was to suspend visa issuance for individuals from six countries, including Libya, Iran, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen for 90 days. This provision, often referred to as the “travel ban,” effectively prohibits travel to the United States for individuals from the six affected countries.
On Thursday, June 15, 2017, by a vote of 98-2, the U.S. Senate overwhelmingly passed a bill that would potentially impose additional sanctions against Russia and give Congress the power to delay and/or prevent any action by President Trump to lift or relax sanctions against Russia. Tentatively titled the “Countering Russian Influence in Europe and Eurasia Act of 2017” (“CRIEEA”), the bill must now proceed to the U.S. House of Representatives for further deliberation and approval.
On April 24, 2017, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) issued a press release and updated the Specially Designated National (SDN) List by adding 271 new Syrian nationals that are employed by Scientific Studies and Research Center (SSRC). SSRC is the Syrian government agency responsible for the development and deployment of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad’s chemical weapons program. As a result of the designation, any assets held by the individuals in the United States will be frozen and U.S. persons are generally blocked from dealing with the listed individuals.
New legislation, included as part of the government spending bill, enacts new changes to the visa waiver program (VWP), imposing additional restrictions on travelers from VWP countries. The new changes require a consular interview for nationals of, or individuals who have traveled to, countries that have supported terrorism or other “high risk” countries, including Syria, Sudan, Iran, and Iraq, since March 2011.