Toward a Modified Travel Ban in Support of Merit-Based Immigrants


On June 26, 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court decided Trump V. Hawaii. Chief Justice John Roberts, in a 5-4 ruling, held in favor of the Trump Administration on what has become known as the Trump Travel Ban 3.0. Specifically the Supreme Court majority acknowledged the President’s power under the Immigration and Nationality Act to suspend entry of certain classes of noncitizens into the United States. So, at this time, Trump Travel Ban 3.0 restricts in various ways and in various degrees the issuance of non-immigrant (temporary) and immigrant visas for citizens of Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela, and Yemen.

Trump Travel Ban 3.0 was initially issued back in September 2017 and since that time the Trump Administration has amended Travel Ban 3.0 by removing visa restrictions previously imposed on nationals of Chad. The changes for Chad occurred in April 2018. This indicates that the Trump Administration is actively reviewing new information and policy considerations over time with respect to the travel ban.

Separate from the travel ban, in May of this year, President Trump gained considerable worldwide attention when he withdrew the United States from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) – more commonly known as the Obama Iran Nuclear Deal. In his prepared remarks on May 8 in connection with withdrawal from the JCPOA, President Trump stated:

“I want to deliver a message to the long-suffering people of Iran: The people of America

stand with you. It has now been almost 40 years since this dictatorship seized power

and took a proud nation hostage. Most of Iran’s 80 million citizens have sadly never

known an Iran that prospered in peace with its neighbors and commanded the admiration

of the world. But the future of Iran belongs to its people. They are the rightful heirs to

a rich culture and an ancient land and they deserve a nation that does justice to their

dreams, honor to their history, and glory to their god.”

Further, President Trump has consistently stated that he favors merit-based legal immigrants and on multiple occasions in recent weeks he has mentioned that the strength of the U.S. economy means that the United States will need more workers. Recently U.S. Department of Labor reports indicate that there are more job openings than job seekers but many of the open positions are for highly skilled roles not easily filled by the unemployed.

In light of his support for the Iranian people (as opposed to the Iranian government) and his support for merit-based legal immigration, and in recognition of the strength of the U.S. economy, now is the appropriate time for the President to modify the existing travel ban in support of merit-based immigrants.

The Immigration and Nationality Act permits certain individuals to self-petition for immigrant visas as Aliens of Extraordinary Ability as well as Advanced Degree Aliens seeking to pursue endeavors in the U.S. National Interest. These self-petitioning individuals have demonstrated expertise in a wide variety of scientific, business, and artistic endeavors. They are seeking to immigrate and contribute to the United States.

Trump Travel Ban 3.0 already creates limited waivers for foreign nationals with “significant business or professional obligations” but does not currently exempt self-petitioning merit-based immigrants. Modifying the travel ban now would provide clear support for the kinds of people the President is hoping to attract and for Iranians in particular, provide an opportunity for the most talented and freedom-seeking among them to pursue their God-given talents to the fullest.

About The Author

Robert P. Webberis an immigration attorney in private practice in Minnesota. He can be reached at

The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of ILW.COM.