Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf said during a call with reporters that the six countries failed to meet U.S. security and information-sharing standards, which necessitated the new restrictions. The problems Wolf cited ranged from sub-par passport technology to a failure to sufficiently exchange information on terrorism suspects and criminals.
Belarus, which had been under consideration for inclusion, took steps to remedy deficiencies in recent months and will not face visa restrictions, Wolf said.
The United States will suspend the issuance of visas that can lead to permanent residency for nationals of Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar, and Nigeria, a presidential proclamation said. Temporary visas for tourists, business people, students and workers from those nations will not be affected, it said.
The U.S. government also will stop issuing “diversity visas” to nationals of Sudan and Tanzania, the proclamation said. The visas, which Trump has criticized, are available by lottery for applicants from countries with low rates of immigration.
“These countries, for the most part, want to be helpful,” Wolf said, “but for a variety of different reasons simply failed to meet those minimum requirements that we laid out.”
The original travel ban barred nearly all immigrants and travelers from seven countries with majority Muslim populations. The policy was revised amid court challenges, but the U.S. Supreme Court ultimately upheld it in June 2018.
Trump has made cracking down on immigration a focus of his 2020 re-election campaign. His travel ban policy is popular with Republican supporters.
The existing version of the ban includes Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen. North Korea and Venezuela also face visa bars, but those measures affect relatively few travelers. Those restrictions will remain in place.
The new travel ban will take effect on Feb. 21, according to the proclamation.