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Visa ban confusion: US embassy contradicts UK government advice and then it doesn't

Phill Tutt, International Managing Editor,
Protesters gather outside Terminal 4 at JFK airport in opposition to U.S. president Donald Trump's proposed ban on immigration in Queens, New York City, U.S., January 28, 2017.
Stephen Yang | Reuters

U.K. government claims that it had won clarification and concessions from the U.S. on its crackdown on visa rules were thrown into confusion Monday after the U.S. embassies were reported to have issued contradictory advice.

On Saturday, President Donald Trump signed an executive order that people travelling to the U.S. from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen would be refused visa entry to the U.S.

However, the U.K.'s Foreign and Commonwealth Office, headed by foreign secretary Boris Johnson, issued Sunday what it claimed was a clarification of the details of the highly controversial travel ban.

The clarification included:

  • The Presidential executive order only applies to individuals travelling from one of the seven named countries.
  • The executive order does not apply to people travelling to the U.S. from anywhere other than one of those seven countries and there will be no extra immigration checks.
  • U.K. citizens, even if they born in one of the seven countries, travelling from those countries to the U.S. are not covered by the executive order.
  • Dual citizens of one of the seven countries travelling to the U.S. from outside those countries are also excluded from the order.

Dual-citizens arriving from any of the seven named countries may, however, be subject to extra checks, the FCO confirmed.

However, according to several media reports, U.S. embassies in Berlin and London Monday issued an "urgent notice" on their websites, warning people of dual nationality not to apply for visas or attend visa interviews as their applications would not be processed. That notice has since been taken down from the London embassy's website.

Later Monday, the U.S. embassy in London issued a new advice, reversing it previous guidance and backing the original U.K. clarification.

Representatives of the U.S. embassy were unavailable for further comment at the time this article was published.

President Trump has defended the ban, saying that it was strictly about national security and not religion.

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