Here’s How Trump’s Travel Ban Could Impact Aussie Travellers Right Now

By now, you would have been bombarded by news about American President Donald Trump’s travel ban on citizens of seven majority-Muslim nations, but you may not have caught up on to how exactly the measures could impact you. 

After all, only the biggest pessimists among us would have thought he’d pull something so decisively flawed in his first few days as POTUS. Nobody – not even America’s own border security administrations – was prepared for this. 

Simply put, the ban impacts citizens of the seven nations listed in Trump’s executive order – Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. This ban will last for at least 90 days, starting from the Saturday just passed.

If you are a citizen of one of those nations, you will not be able to enter the US. That is the current, heartbreaking truth of the matter. 

Here’s what the ban means for others looking to travel to the US in the next three months.

Australian Citizens

As simply as possible, if you are not a citizen of one of these nations, you will not be directly affected by the ban in any direct way.

Upon arrival, you will not be subject to any checks, interviews, or any other procedures that weren’t present when Trump signed the order. You may, however, be held up due to the ongoing protests at many of the nation’s major airports – and staff on-site who may be sick of dealing with this enormous clusterfuck of a ruling.

There is one other thing worth nothing, though. Thanks to rules which were pushed through in June last year, people who have even visited those seven nations recently will need to jump through some hoops before entering the States. 
If you travelled to any of those nations after 1 March 2011, you’ll need to apply for a non-immigrant visa before travelling, and you’ll be asked to attend an interview at a US embassy or consulate. 

That’s in comparison to other Australian citizens, who may use the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) to get an Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA) to work or travel within the US for under 90 days – interview free.
Dual Nationals
This is where it gets tricky: those who are citizens of both Australia and one of the seven nations listed will be adversely affected by the ban. 
Here’s a sentence we compiled for this article yesterday afternoon: “Hypothetically, if you hold citizenship of both Australia and Iran, you will not be issued a US visa, and you will not be able to enter the US.”

Welp, in the time between now and then, that hypothetical situation has become a reality. A 15-year-old Melbourne schoolboy with dual Australian-Iranian papers said his visa interview at the US Consulate was cancelled, meaning he won’t be able to attend space camp in Orlando, Florida. 

While the United Kingdom has secured an agreement with US which ensures its dual nationals will be exempted from the ban (if they travel to the US from any nation but one of the seven blacklisted), Australia has not – yet. 

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop issued a statement yesterday afternoon, saying she has “directed our officials in Washington DC to work with US officials to ensure any preferential treatment extended to any other country… is extended to Australia.”

We’ll have to wait and see on this one.

Green Card Holders

A green card is a kind of intermediary allowance available to some who move to the US. It grants the holder the ability to work, travel, and reside within the US for a decade at a time without the need for US citizenship. 

In the first few hours after the executive order was signed, it seemed likely the slap-dash enforcement of the rules would bar any green card holders bearing straight-up citizenship to one of the banned nations from re-entering the US.

Fortunately, relevant green card holders have now been given the all-clear to travel to and from the US as they please, but a key figure in Trump’s administration did say they may be subject to more intense questioning when re-entering. 

What Happens If You Get Caught Out?

The situation regarding the execution of the executive order is most aptly described as “fluid.” Trump really did rush this one out, and each and every level of the nation’s administration is scrambling to figure out how the fuck to work it all out. 

As such, the information listed above is liable to change. If you’re travelling to the US, it’s highly recommended you keep an eye on the SmartTraveller website for the latest information.

Similarly, if you feel you’re in a bad position upon arrival in the US, it may be worth making contact with the nearest Australian embassy or consulate. You can find a list of ’em here.
If you are caught up in a situation that you believe is contrary to the rules laid out above, it would be worthwhile contacting the American Civil Liberties Union.
They’ve been on the frontline in assisting people caught in this Kafkaesque nightmare, and in the past two days, they’ve raised millions of dollars to keep their legal aid going. You may as well make the most of it, if you need to.

If you do get turned away at the gates and you’re flying with Qantas, you’re in (some kind of) luck. The airline has offered to refund tickets for anyone hit by this rigmarole, and they’ve also offered to amend the details on your ticket so you can head to a new, more accepting destination. 

Take care over there, mates. 
Photo: Miami Herald / Getty.