US imposes new restrictions on foreign travelers

The Trump administration announced a raft of new travel regulations Monday in response to deadly incidents on U.S. soil, mostly in states where there are large Hispanic populations.

The new rules, which require that all travelers get government consular clearance when they enter or leave the United States, expand the definition of “conflict area” from 22 locations to 40. Those include areas surrounding borders and “barring nations,” like Syria, Yemen and Libya.

The new rules also streamline the current requirement for travelers to submit a passport photo, which means only one photo or, if part of a photo is missing, duplicate it, which could make it harder for travelers to get expedited passport applications.

One change requires that travelers waiting to apply for permanent residence visas get the process started at least three months before they plan to leave the United States. After that, the visa process will be more automated. As they have in the past, applicants will be interviewed, but now it will happen several times — at the consulate, via video call, or, for in-person applicants, through social media.

One change makes it more difficult for suspected terrorists and those traveling to join terror groups to hide their travel. As of Jan. 19, applicants cannot travel to the United States if they’ve been convicted of a felony punishable by more than a year in prison or a misdemeanor punishable by less than a year in prison. Under current rules, individuals convicted of multiple felonies and misdemeanors are allowed to travel to the United States.

Visa applications for new arrivals and previously issued one-way visas for the purpose of returning to their home country have also been added to the Homeland Security audits. Officials said that searches of those passengers’ electronic devices would begin immediately.

The updated guidelines were made as the bureau announced $47 million in bonuses to Immigration and Customs Enforcement employees in the face of the new regulations.

“ICE’s commitment to identifying, apprehending, and removing illegal aliens who pose a risk to public safety and national security is reinforced by the generous investment this administration is making to help protect and fulfill this commitment,” the department said in a statement.

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