(KRON) – Although now void, the Trump-era travel ban is still affecting tens-of-thousands of immigrants around the world who are left in limbo. This month, a federal court in San Francisco ruled in their favor to force the U.S. government to do more to help.
They’re calling it a clear victory. But the concern now is: How quickly can immigration applicants get their visas processed without additional costs?
In 2017, then-president Trump enacted a travel ban on several Muslim-majority countries. Immigration lawyers rallied at airports, then fought in court against it.
When President Biden took office, he rescinded the ban, as promised. The trouble is, according to Bay Area-based legal nonprofit Pars Equality Center, there was no clear answer for the nearly 40,000 applicants around the world who are left in an administrative limbo.
“They are still waiting for their visa. They’re still waiting for reconsideration. So the travel ban has been rescinded but the harms continue,” said Paris Etemadi Scott with the Pars Equality Center.
Applicants are either still waiting for an interview or were denied a visa during the ban, despite paying up to thousands of dollars in fees for their shot at the American dream. Applicants from countries without a U.S. Embassy have to pay for flights and hotels to a third country where they could apply and complete a health exam.
Pars Equality Center reports that an Iranian family lost their father to COVID-19 in Armenia in 2020 during the legal process. They are now brokenhearted and stuck with a medical bill.
In addition to the grief and lengthy time spent, applicants like these are left wondering whether the money invested went down the drain.
The judge’s ruling ordered the U.S. Government to undo harms by the travel ban, reconsider denied visas, and waive any fees related to their visa applications for a second time.
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“This is far from the end of the road, right? It’s a victory, and it’s an important victory, but it’s really just a step. It’s effectively an order that forces the government to come to the table and talk resolution and figure in helping us figure a way of how to go forward,” said Babak Yousefzadeh of the Iranian-American Bar Association.
People who’ve been waiting for a visa are excited but wary, as the wheels of government most often turn slowly. In addition to waiving any fees for visa applicants from countries formerly on the travel ban, they hope this ruling will expedite reconsideration.