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| 15 February, 2017

No visa-free US entry for Arabs

Image used for illustrative purpose.
A member of the Al Murisi family, Yemeni nationals who were denied entry into the U.S. last week because of the recent travel ban, shows the cancelled visa in their passport from their failed entry to reporters as they successfully arrive to be reunited with their family at Washington Dulles International Airport in Chantilly, Virginia, U.S. February 6, 2017.  REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Image used for illustrative purpose. A member of the Al Murisi family, Yemeni nationals who were denied entry into the U.S. last week because of the recent travel ban, shows the cancelled visa in their passport from their failed entry to reporters as they successfully arrive to be reunited with their family at Washington Dulles International Airport in Chantilly, Virginia, U.S. February 6, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Article, titled, “Donald Trump signs a visa-free travel policy for the Arab world, 7 countries excluded,” by usa-radio.com, which has been circulating on the WhatsApp, has been termed as extremely misleading.

15 February 2017
Khadija Al Zadjali
Muscat: An article stating that the United States President has signed a visa-free travel policy for the Arab world is incorrect, according to a US Embassy spokeswoman.

The article, titled, “Donald Trump signs a visa-free travel policy for the Arab world, 7 countries excluded,” by usa-radio.com, which has been circulating on the WhatsApp, has been termed as extremely misleading. 

The controversial article stated that Arabs, excluding those from the seven countries, do not require visa to visit the States and can stay for up to 180 days before needing one.

Christy Watkins, the spokesperson at the US Embassy, stated that the article was “not credible and not true.” The US Embassy in Muscat issued a press release, stating: “The US Embassy is aware of the misinformation circulating on social media, claiming that President Trump signed an executive order that Omanis can visit the US without a visa. This information is false; Omanis still need a visa to travel to the US.” Trump’s order imposed a 90-day travel ban for nationals from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

The Executive Order, titled “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorists’ Entry into the United States,” didn’t remain valid for very long as the judicial branch kicked in.

Civil liberties campaigners estimate that 100-200 people were held at airports or while in transit. Protests were staged at airports all over the United States. Thousands flocked to the John F. Kennedy airport last night, chanting “let them in.”

Passengers from these seven countries who were already mid-air were detained on arrival, even if they held valid US visas or green cards. Affected embassies, airlines and Oman residents who are nationals of those countries but ended up on Donald Trump’s ‘no-fly’ list are busy coming to terms with the impact of the ban.

Immigration ban

President Donald Trump’s temporary immigration ban faced the first of several crucial legal hurdles that could determine whether he can push through the most controversial and far reaching policy of his first two weeks in office.

Last week, the government had set a deadline to justify the executive order temporarily barring immigrants from seven mostly Muslim countries and the entry of refugees after a federal judge in Seattle blocked it with a temporary restraining order.

The uncertainty caused by a judge’s stay of the ban has opened a window for travellers from the seven affected countries to enter the United States.

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© Times of Oman 2017