globeOn Tuesday, July 12, 2017, President Trump issued an Executive Order in order to amend Executive Order 13761, which was issued by the Obama Administration in January of 2017. Today’s amendments to EO 13761 allow the State Department additional time to prepare its report on whether the Government of Sudan has sustained the positive activities that the Obama Administration recognized when it originally issued EO 13761.  EO 13761 originally required the report to be delivered by July 12, 2017, but President Trump’s new order pushes that deadline back to October 12, 2017.

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immigrationIn 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.

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Flag of CubaPresident Trump today announced changes to U.S.-Cuban sanctions policy which will reverse amendments made by the Obama administration in 2015 and 2016 intended to normalize relations with Cuba. President Trump stated that these changes will include eliminating unsponsored individual travel under the “people-to-people” program and restricting transactions with Cuban military, intelligence and security agencies. The U.S. Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control and the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security have not yet revised their rules to formally implement today’s announced policy changes, however OFAC has provided preliminary FAQ guidance. According to OFAC, today’s announced changes will not become effective until the new regulations are issued.

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Flag of CubaU.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx was among the passengers aboard the historic flight from Fort Lauderdale, Florida to Santa Clara, Cuba today as JetBlue provided the first regularly scheduled commercial flight from the U.S. to Cuba in 55 years. Scheduled air service from the United States to Cuba is the most recent step in a string of important changes in the normalization of relations between the two nations.  As a result of these changes, which have been previously reported on here, a U.S. embassy was opened, direct mail service has been restored, Carnival cruise line has begun trips to Cuba and various regulatory changes have been made to ease travel, trade and financial transactions with Cuba.
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Shortly before President Obama’s upcoming visit to Cuba, the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security (“BIS”) and U.S. Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control North America Map(“OFAC”) have released new rule amendments in order to permit increased travel, financial transactions and trade between the two countries.

These amended rules remove the sponsoring organization requirement from OFAC’s general license allowing “people to people” travel to Cuba. As a result, U.S. persons may now to travel to Cuba much more easily on their own accord under the “people to people” program. However, persons doing so must still must maintain a full-time schedule of meaningful interactive activities, keep appropriate documentation and satisfy other requirements. Travel to or within Cuba for tourism purposes remains prohibited.


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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.

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Tax FormsOn December 4, 2015, President Obama signed legislation authorizing the federal government to revoke, deny, or limit passports for individuals with a “seriously delinquent tax debt.” The law defines “seriously delinquent tax debt” as owing the IRS more than $50,000 in tax, penalties, and interest. The measure, slipped into the enormous–more than 1,300 pages–highway funding bill [Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (“Fast Act”)], gives the State Department the authority to revoke, deny or limit passports for anyone the IRS certifies as owing more than $50,000 in tax debt. Taxpayers with current installment agreements with the IRS, whereby they have agreed to pay their tax debt over time, are exempted from the law.

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Flag of CubaThe U.S. Department of Commerce and Department of the Treasury have announced additional changes to the Cuban Assets Control Regulations and Export Administration Regulations intended to facilitate travel, expand telecommunications and internet-based services, and authorize certain business operations in Cuba. Published on September 21, these new policy changes take effect immediately.  Among the changes are specific provisions aimed at expanding U.S. presence in Cuba:
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Flag of CubaWhile Iran has taken center stage in current foreign policy discussions, Congress and the Administration are keenly aware that Cuba is on deck. Following President Obama’s historic meeting with Cuban President Raúl Castro and his announcement of intent to remove Cuba from the list of states that sponsor terrorism, members of Congress have responded by introducing bills both supporting and opposing the President’s policies, including:

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