(**UPDATE: November 13, 2020) Mr. Joseph R. Biden has been elected as the President of the United States. He has promised to stop the Muslim ban/travel ban when he officially becomes the President in January 2021. Mr. Joe Biden has promised to cancel the ban on the first day he is in office. This is great news for so many families that have been separated because of this unjust immigration policy. However, it is still important to be vigilant and realistic that these changes may take time. First, Mr. Biden might not cancel the policy right away. Second, there might be lawsuits challenging the policy change causing the travel ban to continue and be in effect for several more months, if not longer. Third, it might take time for the Department of State and embassies to revise their practice and implement any new policies adopted by the Biden administration. Therefore, if you are from Iran and/or your family member is affected by the travel ban/Muslim ban, it is important to know your rights and options in these challenging times. You can read our article below regarding travel ban waiver options, administrative processing, and strategies for following up regarding your case if it has been severely delayed. As always, please do not hesitate to reach out. We are happy to help any way we can.
Travel Ban Waiver | Everything You Need to Know
(First published: May 10, 2018 | Updated: October 5, 2019 & November 13, 2020)
The travel ban is in full effect. What does this mean for you and your family if you are from one of the banned countries such as Iran? What happens if you have a pending case? An upcoming embassy interview? What if you are in administrative processing? We will address these frequently asked questions that we receive every single day from many clients and their families.
What is Visa Waiver Letter (Presidential Proclamation Waiver)? How Do I Qualify for a Waiver?
The travel ban/Presidential Proclamation states that visa applicants from Iran, Somalia, Yemen, Libya, Chad, North Korea, or Venezuela cannot be given visas and they are not allowed to enter the United States. At the same time, the Presidential Proclamation also provides for a waiver where a visa applicant can show why they should be allowed to enter the United States despite the travel ban restrictions.
There is no application or formal procedure for qualifying for a waiver. The person is evaluated for a waiver at the time of the interview. The travel ban/Presidential Proclamation has provided three factors of how a person can qualify for a waiver: The applicant must show (1) that a denial would cause undue hardship, (2) that he or she does not pose a national security threat, and (3) that a visa approval would be in the “national interest.”
The officer at the interview decides whether a person qualifies for a waiver or not, and each embassy has a different procedure and preference when evaluating travel ban waiver cases. The best way to present waiver evidence depends on what embassy you choose and how strategic you can be. Remember, you have to fight for your case and provide as much evidence as possible to show why you should be an exception to the travel ban. The officer does not fight for your case -- YOU fight for your rights and your opportunity to get a visa.
That is where a lawyer can help as well. Here at ImmigraTrust Law, Najmeh Mahmoudjafari, one of the best Iranian immigration lawyers in the United States, has worked on several hundred waiver cases and waiver packages. She has successfully gotten travel ban waivers approved for her Iranian clients and other clients affected by the travel ban. Najmeh Mahmoudjafari has written several hundred waiver letters and waiver packages making detailed legal arguments of why her client should be granted a waiver. She follows-up with the embassy thoroughly to make sure that the embassy officers are held accountable and do not let the case sit in limbo. Our attorney, Najmeh Mahmoudjafari, cares about you and your case and wants to make sure that you receive ANSWERS. We recommend that you be proactive about your waiver case. You can always leave it to the officer to evaluate your case, but the better evidence and the better strategy that you have, your approval chance significantly increases.
I am from Iran and I Have an Upcoming Interview with U.S. Embassy, What Do I Do?
If you have an interview coming up, Najmeh Mahmoudjafari would be happy to speak with you in detail regarding your waiver options. Depending on the embassy, sometimes a waiver letter from a lawyer is not required, and the officer wants you to have a conversation only at the interview regarding why you qualify for a travel ban waiver. In that case, Ms. Mahmoudjafari can provide some strategies via a consultation to prepare you for the interview such as the questions they will ask, the documents they will want to see, and what type of evidence you can provide in support of your waiver case. Other times, it is a good idea to have a waiver package from a lawyer that specifically details your case and why the officer should approve your case.
My Case is in Administrative Processing and is affected by the Presidential Proclamation. What do I do?
Administrative processing is a background check process that the embassy does on the applicant after the interview. This process can sometimes take up to a year or more. During this time, the embassy is requesting information on the applicant from various agencies regarding the person’s travels, social media history, associations, work history, etc. Unfortunately, being placed in administrative processing is very normal especially for Iranian applicants and applicants from Syria, Somalia, Yemen, and Libya.
Again, there is a strategy that can be used for administrative processing as well. Background checks are normal parts of the process, but more and more, Iranian applicants and other affected by the travel ban have been held for months and months in administrative processing without answers. YOU HAVE RIGHTS, and you do not have to deal with endless backgrounds checks.
If you are in administrative processing and you recently followed-up on your case, you may have received an email or a letter from the embassy stating that your case will be rejected based on the Presidential Proclamation but that they will evaluate your case for waiver eligibility. In this situation, depending on what happened at your embassy interview, it can be a great idea to follow-up with the embassy with a waiver package to show why you should be granted a waiver to the travel ban/Presidential Proclamation (see the question above regarding how to qualify for a waiver and information regarding waiver letters).
If you have been in administrative processing for more than a year, please contact us. While it is normal to be place in administrative processing, the embassy is not supposed to make it an impossible process with no end. They have to provide answers. Therefore, if you have been following up constantly without any response, there are ways to get answers on your case. For example, there is a type of lawsuit that visa applicants can file against the government for unjustly delaying their case. It is called a mandamus lawsuit or mandamus action. This is a powerful tool that can be very beneficial especially for families that have tried every other option to get answers.
The Embassy Told Me My Case Has been Rejected Because of the Presidential Proclamation, What Do I Do?
If after the interview or after following-up with the embassy via email, you were told that your case was rejected because of the travel ban, you still have options. Based on the travel ban, the embassy must give you an opportunity to present evidence of why you qualify for a waiver. Many times, the rejection letters state that the rejection decision is not appealable. However, the embassy is required to properly evaluate the applicant for a waiver. It can be beneficial to have an attorney to follow-up with the embassy regarding your qualifications for a waiver. You have invested time and money to submit your visa application and while asking to be re-evaluated is not a guarantee of visa approval, it is worth following up to save your visa application and not have to start the process all over again.
If you have any questions regarding the travel ban/Presidential Proclamation, waiver eligibility and other immigration questions, we are here for you. We look forward to speaking with you soon! We have successfully helped many clients from Iran and other countries affected by the travel ban by providing strong waiver letters to overcome Trump’s travel ban so that they can reunite with their families, work and invest in the United States.
There are many questions that our clients ask us every day such as: How immigration officers will decide and analyze the waivers? Will there be a form? What is “undue hardship?” What is “national security?” Does an individual have to make a direct request for waiver? What type of evidence is required to be submitted for the waiver? How long will applicants have to wait before a decision is made on a waiver application? Since every case is different, there is no single answer to these questions. We highly recommend consulting with an immigration attorney regarding preparing evidence and your waiver letter to ensure success.
For more information on the Muslim travel ban and other immigration topics, please visit our articles page.
For additional questions, please contact us at www.ImmigraTrust.com or by calling (949) 424-2045. Please subscribe to our Facebook page for updates!
--Najmeh Mahmoudjafari, J.D.
Najmeh Mahmoudjafari is the Founder and Lead Immigration Attorney at ImmigraTrust Law (www.ImmigraTrust.com), an immigration law practice in Orange County, California, representing individual and corporate clients in all 50 U.S. States and internationally. Najmeh can be reached at Najmeh@ImmigraTrust.com.
DISCLAIMER: This article is for general information purposes only. It is not intended and does not constitute legal advice. This article does not create an attorney/client relationship and does not provide an attorney/client privilege. For legal advice about your specific case, please contact an attorney.
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