Response to Executive Order on Immigration Policy

Update [10/20/2017] – The presidential proclamation issued by President Trump on September 24, 2017 has been blocked in part by federal courts. On October 17, 2017, a federal judge based in Hawaii stopped the ban from taking effect, with the exception of the provisions targeting Venezuela and North Korea. A federal judge in Maryland followed suit on Wednesday, blocking enforcement of the ban as applied to travelers with “bona fide” ties to the United States.

In practice, this means that currently, the presidential proclamation issued back in September 2017 is indefinitely limiting entry into the United States from North Korea and implementing provisions targeting certain government officials from Venezuela.


President Trump issued a presidential proclamation entitled Enhancing Vetting Capabilities and Processes for Detecting Attempted Entry Into the United States by Terrorists or Other Public Safety Threats on the evening of September 24, 2017, that places certain restrictions on entry to the United States for nationals of seven countries: Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria and Yemen. Government officials from Venezuela will also face restrictions or heightened scrutiny.

As of this date, nationals from Sudan, which was named in the original travel ban, are no longer subject to restrictions on their travel to the United States.

The proclamation is effective as of September 24 for nationals who were already subject to the previous executive order (Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen), and who lack a formal, documented, ‘bona fide’ relationship to a close family member or entity in the United States. If the national does not qualify for this bona fide relationship exemption, they may be eligible for other exceptions or waivers listed in proclamation.

These travel restrictions will take effect on October 18 for nationals of Chad and North Korea. In addition, as of October 18, the bona fide relationship exemption is no longer applicable.

Please Note:
Previously scheduled visa application appointments at American Consulates will not be canceled; in accordance with all applicable court orders, executive orders, and proclamations, for nationals of the eight designated countries, a consular officer will make a determination in the course of the interview whether an applicant otherwise eligible for a visa is exempt from the presidential proclamation or, if not, is eligible for a waiver and may be issued a visa.

Those individuals who already hold a U.S. visa will not be affected.

All other J-1 applications continue to be processed at the same levels as in previous years.

Cultural Vistas continues to recommend that all J-1 Visa holders traveling to the United States carry with them comprehensive documentation of their relationship to their U.S. host institution, to facilitate their entry at the border. Travelers have the right to counsel at U.S. airports, and may wish to consider reaching out to the Airport Lawyer project as needed. Please review the following websites for specific information and updates related to the proclamation.

Please continue to check our website for updates as this situation remains fluid. As always, do not hesitate to reach out to us for further guidance and support.

To the Cultural Vistas community,

Last Friday evening, January 27, the President of the United States signed an executive order that restricts people from seven specific countries from entering the United States for at least 90 days. Due to the global nature of Cultural Vistas’ community, this executive order could disrupt the lives of several of our exchange program participants and hosts.

While this situation is fluid and many specifics remain uncertain, we are certain about our commitment to each of you. Cultural Vistas strives to embrace the benefits of diversity, inclusion, and respect for differing beliefs, and we work every day towards a world which is truly pluralistic in outlook.

We will pursue every means available to us to safeguard our exchange participants, to reinstate exchanges with the countries affected, and to create a welcoming America for all of our exchange visitors.

We have reached out directly to assist our exchange participants we believe to be adversely affected by the current executive order. If the legal implementation of the executive order changes, we will reach out at that time to those newly affected groups.

Cultural Vistas will continue to monitor and analyze the impact of the executive order, and will issue additional guidance as it becomes available.

Linda Boughton
Acting President & CEO