What's changed in Trump's travel ban

President Trump issued a new travel ban on Monday with changes aimed at ensuring the controversial policy stands up in court.  

The initial executive order, which was put on hold by a federal judge, barred people from seven majority-Muslim countries from entering the United States for 90 days, halted U.S. refugee resettlement for 120 days and suspended Syrian refugees indefinitely.

Trump has said that tweaking the order will address the objections of a federal appeals court while allowing his administration to protect national security.


“We can tailor the order to that decision and get just about everything, in some ways, more,” Trump said during a news conference last month.

Here’s a look at what’s new in the order. 

Iraq is now excluded

The new ban prohibits travelers from Sudan, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen from entering the U.S. for 90 days. Iraq is no longer on the list, which is perhaps the biggest policy shift from the original order. 

Iraq, a partner in the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), said that the move sends a “positive message” for relations between the two countries.

The push to drop Iraq from the policy came after commitments from Iraqi officials to “increase cooperation with the U.S. Government on the vetting of its citizens applying for a visa to travel to the United States,” according to an official description from the administration. Other reasons cited for the change were “Iraq’s commitment to combat ISIS” and the presence of U.S. diplomats and military forces in the country.

The Trump administration had argued that the seven nations listed in the original ban did not have proper vetting systems in place for issuing visas and keeping potential terrorists out of the U.S.


But an internal report from the Department of Homeland Security reportedly disputed that notion. Intelligence analysts found that few people from those countries had actually been involved in terrorism-related activities in the U.S. since 2011, adding that citizenship is not a reliable indicator of threat. 

The new order attempts to make a greater case for the terrorism threat. It states that “hundreds of persons born abroad have been convicted of terrorism-related crimes in the United States” since 2001 and cites two recent examples. 

Valid visa holders are not affected

The new policy provides far greater clarity about who is not included in the ban.

The ban explicitly exempts legal permanent residents, people who are dual citizens of another country that isn't banned, foreign nationals traveling for diplomatic purposes and those who already have a valid visa to come to the U.S.

After Trump signed the original order, thousands of visas were canceled and travelers were detained and stranded at airports around the country amid mass confusion over whom the policy applied to. 

The administration later said green card holders were not included in the policy, but a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which decided to keep a restraining order on the ban in place, suggested that the clarification was not enough. 

In a lawsuit from Washington state and Minnesota over the ban, plaintiffs argued that residents were being harmed because families were being separated, green-card holders were stranded aboard, and foreign scholars and students with valid visas in the U.S. were afraid to leave the country. 

The new exception appears aimed at addressing those concerns, which could take away some of the states’ legal standing for challenging the ban. 

The administration also emphasized that “in transit” travelers would not be denied entry and that valid visas would not be revoked.

All refugees are equal

Another major shift in the new order is that it removes the indefinite restrictions on Syrian refugees.

Instead, the policy halts all refugee admissions to the U.S. for four months. 

The administration also stripped language that would have given preference to religious minorities — such as Christians from the Middle East — once refugee resettlement resumes. 


The initial order directed the administration to "prioritize refugee claims made by individuals on the basis of religious-based persecution, provided that the religion of the individual is a minority religion in the individual's country of nationality."

That provision gave fuel to critics who labeled the previous order a Muslim ban.

"The sham of a secular purpose is exposed by both the language of the order and defendants' expressions of anti-Muslim intent," the plaintiffs in the lawsuit said, pointing to Trump's own comments on the issue from the campaign trail, where he called for a specific ban on Muslims entering the U.S.

Although the 9th Circuit judges did not weigh in on whether the travel ban was discriminatory, they raised questions over its constitutionality. The issue could be the central focus of any legal challenges to the new order.

More people could qualify for waivers 

The order has a much longer list of who might qualify for a waiver to the policy.

It says that waivers may be provided on a case-by-case basis if “denying entry during the suspension period would cause undue hardship, and that his or her entry would not pose a threat to national security and would be in the national interest.”


The order lists nine examples, such as people traveling to the U.S. for business or professional obligations, those visiting a close family member who is a U.S. citizen or legal resident, foreign nationals who have permanent resident status in Canada and are applying for a visa at a location within Canada, and a young child or infant who needs urgent medical care.

This language appears to directly address the states’ claim that the policy was causing immediate harm.

There were reports of an Iranian baby with a serious heart defect whose family was en route to get medical care in the U.S. when they got caught up in the travel ban, as well as reports of an economic toll on the states from a dampened demand for business travel to the U.S.

It starts with a 10-day grace period

The new order won’t take effect until March 16.

That gives customs agents, travelers, airlines and airports over a week to prepare for the changes.

The 10-day window is likely designed to help ensure a smoother rollout this time around.

The initial order took force immediately, which contributed to some of the chaos and uproar, as many airlines, officials and even Republican lawmakers were caught off guard.