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New Travel Suspension Order Could Affect Health Care Workforce

The administration on Sept. 24 issued a presidential proclamation indefinitely suspending travel from eight countries, which could affect the health care industry’s ability to recruit foreign workers and medical residents.

The new directive applies to Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela, and Yemen, but the specifics vary by country. Current visa holders and lawful permanent residents will be unaffected by the proclamation. Certain visa applicants, such as students and exchange students from Iran, may still apply for visas but will still be subject to “enhanced screening and vetting requirements.” The proclamation suspends certain specific categories of nonimmigrant visas for Chad, Yemen, and Libya, while others, such as those for health care workers, presumably would be allowed. The order completely suspends all new visas for Syria and North Korea and suspends visas to certain Venezuelan government officials.

Some provisions of the travel suspension took effect Sept. 24 for citizens of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen. The rest of the provisions take effect Oct. 18. The administration might add or remove countries from the suspension based on a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) evaluation of their compliance with screening procedures.

This new proclamation follows a March 6 revised executive order that suspended travel for 90 days from six countries while DHS conducted a worldwide review of screening procedures. Federal courts halted enforcement of that executive order. On appeal, the Supreme Court allowed for partial enforcement pending oral arguments. After the issuance of the September proclamation, the Supreme Court canceled oral arguments on the March order pending further information.

Travel restrictions can have significant implications for the U.S. health care workforce, as many hospitals and health systems rely heavily on foreign health care workers and medical residents. Hospitals should evaluate their residency programs to determine the effects the executive order might have on graduate medical education programs.

Contact Director of Policy Erin O’Malley at or 202.585.0127 with questions.


About the Author

Shahid Zaman is a senior policy analyst at America's Essential Hospitals.

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