Misconceptions behind travel ban, international students

The infamous travel ban

With just over 950,000 international students studying abroad in the U.S., plus thousands more considering studies in America, there appears to be a cloud of dread and confusion.  This affects not only current students, but those potential students in countries that have officially been placed on the travel ban list.  

As of December 4, 2017, the United States Supreme Court began to implement President Trump’s travel ban.  Countries on this list has changed from what was originally issued as a temporary ban on the counties of Iran, Sudan, Yemen, Libya, Syria and Somalia; to an indefinite revised list.  

The revisions

Iraq and Sudan; two out of the six countries from the temporary 90 day ban have been removed from the list with an addition of Chad, North Korea, and Venezuela taking their place. All other countries from the original travel ban are still in place.

Under this newly expanded travel ban, persons whom are exempt, are those who hold dual citizenship, existing visa holders and persons who have already obtained legal status in the U.S.

The breakdown

For the newly added countries of Venezuela, North Korea and Chad:  Venezuelan government officials and close family members will be barred from entry.  Most North Korean citizens and citizens of Chad will be barred entry as well.  

For Chad, Libya and Yemen this also affects immigrants and non-immigrants traveling for business and tourism.  They will be barred entry into the states as well.  

While the travel ban is in effect for these countries,  the ban still has the potential to change as quick as it were enforced; mainly due to the multiple lawsuits from those who call the travel ban, a ‘Muslim’ ban.

Higher education groups are rallying against the ban; addressing their case on how other countries may view the United States Government  as being a ‘hostile’ power against those from predominant muslim countries.  The U.S Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled this travel ban as illegal on 12/22/2017.  The U.S. Supreme Court has a pending review of the ban.

Travel ban is not a student ban

If you are a current student or a student looking to study abroad in the United States,  you’re probably wondering how this may affect you.

For students who have obtained access under their I-20 with appropriate travel documents; this travel ban will not affect your studies or reentry into the states under your student visa.  

For students in the banned countries who would like to study in the states,  you will be able to apply for your student visa, but it may take a bit longer to process due to the new vetting procedures that are in place.  Your family members may not be able to visit you in the states during your studies; with the exception of those who may qualify for entry under certain circumstances.  

Although international students are only making up a fraction of higher ed students in the states, schools are taking a big financial hit because of the ban.  There is fear and uncertainty from students in the affected countries, this has created a decline in applicants within the past year.  

What can higher ed institutions do to ease the uncertainty of current students and those looking to study abroad?  

  1. Work with local and state media to gather and push accurate up to date information
  2. Reach out to international students via social media regarding travel and what to expect
  3. Create programs and activities that keep international students active and engaged during stay in the states during breaks


A misconception found amongst international students: student’s within these countries are under the impression that they will not be able to gain entry into the states; for those already within the states fears of their studies ending lingers on.

So what makes an international student ineligible?  Not obtaining appropriate travel documents and rejection due to the vetting process. 

For more information on form I-20, click here.

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