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Welcome to our new weekly immigration news segment! This week in U.S. immigration news the Trump Administration has introduced a ban for Iranian nationals obtaining E visas, and also sought to tackle ‘Birthright Citizenship’ by restricting access to B visas for pregnant women.

Trump Administration Announces Iranian E-1 & E-2 Ban

The USCIS announced on Wednesday January 22nd, 2020, that due to the U.S. termination of the 1955 Treaty of Amity, Economic Relations, and Consular Rights with Iran on October 3rd, 2018, Iranian nationals are no longer eligible for certain visas.

In new regulations published in the Federal Register, the Department of Homeland Security stated that Iranians and their families are no longer eligible to apply for, or extend, E-1 treaty trader and E-2 treaty investors visas. According to the notice from the USCIS, the ban will take effect on Thursday January 23rd, 2020.

The E-1 and E-2 visa classification allows someone from a “treaty country to be admitted to the United States for the purposes of engaging in international trade or investing a substantial amount of capital into a U.S. business”. Due to the termination of the qualifying 1955 Treaty with Iran, Iranian nationals can no longer receive E-Visas. The USCIS will send Notices of Intent to Deny to all those with pending cases retroactive to October 3rd 2018. Iranian nationals currently holding and properly maintaining E-1 or E-2 status may remain in the U.S. until their current status expires.

The regulation does not affect Iranian nationals from applying for, or extending, other types of visas for which they are eligible. However, following the January 3rd, 2020 U.S. drone strike that lead to the assassination of Qasem Soleimani, U.S.-Iranian relations have deteriorated substantially. There are multiple reports that Iranian Americans were held or detained or denied entry at border checkpoints and airports. Additionally, there are confirmed cases of Iranian students, who were in possession of valid F-1 Student Visas, being detained AND deported from various airports throughout the U.S.

We would sincerely advise Iranian visa holders to consult with an immigration attorney prior to any international travel. Stay tuned for more updates.

“Birth Tourism”: Trump Administration Proposes B Visa Restrictions for Pregnant Women or Those Who Look Pregnant?

Birth Tourism. A concept many American’s may have known little about until recently. The Trump Administration again stoked the flames of anti-immigrant sentiment by announcing visa restrictions aimed at pregnant women on Thursday January 23rd, 2020.

According to the U.S. Department of State, the proposals aim to curb what is known as “Birth Tourism”, a practice where women allegedly travel to the U.S. to give birth so that their child can claim U.S. citizenship. Whilst the Trump Administration has attempted to restrict immigration in all forms since his 2016 election win, the President has been particularly plagued by the issue of Birth Tourism and the resulting Birthright Citizenship.

During his 2016 Presidential Campaign, Donald Trump referred to Birthright Citizenship as “a magnet for illegal immigration.” The President has repeatedly stated that he will remove the rights of “the anchor baby”, eradicating Birthright Citizenship all together. Whilst Trump is not the first U.S. President to attack this, and may not be the last, the issue of Birthright Citizenship is of a Constitutional nature. The 14th Amendment of the United States Constitution contains what is commonly referred to as the “Citizenship Clause”, which states that “all persons born or naturalized in the United States are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside”. Birthright Citizenship is embedded within the protections of the U.S. Constitution. Additionally, a US citizen child cannot sponsor a parent for a green card until they are 21 so the anchor baby motivation is a myth.

Nonetheless, B visa applicants deemed by consular officers to be primarily for the purposes of giving birth in the United States will now likely be rejected. The government’s ruling establishes that “travel to the United States with the primary purpose of obtaining U.S. citizenship for a child by giving birth in the United States is an impermissible basis for the issuance of a B nonimmigrant visa.”

Naturally, this ruling is not without its controversies. The Department of State acknowledges that it cannot estimate the number of people who give birth after entering the United States with a visa. Additionally, given the all time high scrutiny on B visa applications, it’s unlikely that this apparent epidemic of Birth Tourism exists.

Will Consular Officers also deny visitor’s visas to women who simply look like they may be pregnant? For most, this amounts to bodily discrimination toward women, and as a law firm with a high percentage of female team members, we find this completely offensive.

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