US President Donald Trump has imposed new travel restrictions on citizens from North Korea, Venezuela and Chad, expanding to eight the list of nations covered by his original travel ban that has been widely criticised as anti-Muslim and challenged in court.
For the last three months, the Trump administration used a controversial executive order to ban foreign nationals from six Muslim-majority countries - Iran, Syria, Libya, Somalia, Yemen, and Sudan - from entering the US unless they have a "bona fide" relationship with a person or entity in America.
Trump unveiled a revamped travel ban as his controversial immigration order covering six Muslim-majority nations was coming to an end.
The new rule, which will come into effect on October 18, will continue to target travellers from Somalia, Yemen, Syria, Libya and Iran, but also adds North Korea, Chad and Venezuela to the original list of targeted countries.
Sudan has been dropped from the administration's new list and Iraqi citizens will be subjected to "additional scrutiny" but will not face any blanket ban.
The new list of countries notably includes several non- Muslim majority nations, including North Korea and Venezuela.
In most instances, travel will be broadly suspended, while in other cases, travelers will have to undergo enhanced screening and vetting requirements.
"Following an extensive review by the Department of Homeland Security, we are taking action today to protect the safety and security of the American people by establishing a minimum security baseline for entry into the US," Trump said.
"We cannot afford to continue the failed policies of the past, which present an unacceptable danger to our country. My highest obligation is to ensure the safety and security of the American people, and in issuing this new travel order, I am fulfilling that sacred obligation," he said.
The White House described the move as a critical step toward establishing an immigration system that protects Americans' safety and security in an era of dangerous terrorism and transnational crime.
It said North Korea did not co-operate with the US government "in any respect" and failed all requirements - and so all travel to the US by its citizens has been banned.
Tensions have flared up between the US and North Korea over Pyongyang's nuclear and ballistic missile programmes.
Trump's original ban was subject to a range of legal challenges and several large-scale protests, and is due to be considered by the US Supreme Court in October, having been partly reinstated in July.
Critics have accused the president of discriminating against Muslims in violation of constitutional guarantees of religious liberty and equal protection under the law, breaking existing US immigration law and stoking religious hatred.
Trump had called for a "total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States" during his election campaign.
The new restrictions being imposed on eight countries are conditional and may be lifted as they work with the US Government to ensure the safety of Americans.
In a statement, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the State Department will coordinate with other federal agencies to implement these measures in an orderly manner.
Meanwhile, the American Civil Liberties Union rights group said the addition of the new countries "doesn't obfuscate the real fact that the administration's order is still a Muslim ban".
Asian Americans Advancing Justice (AAAJ), Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and National Immigration Law Center (NILC) have also condemned the new presidential proclamation.
"This new nonsensical ban continues to discriminate against immigrants, refugees, and visitors from a group of majority Muslim countries. We will continue to stand up for our communities and fight against any attempt at a Muslim Ban," said Elica Vafaie, Staff Attorney at the AAAJ.
The new proclamation marks the administration s third move to limit travel into the US. The first one, which was chaotically rolled out in January, targeted refugees and seven Muslim-majority countries.
It was subsequently abandoned by the administration after a series of federal courts blocked it on grounds it violated the US constitution s protection of religious freedom.
The second order, issued in March, targeted six of the same countries. A limited version of the ban was allowed to come into effect over the summer following a temporary ruling by the supreme court.
The new policy is likely to throw a major hurdle in front of the ongoing supreme court challenge to Trump s second order. The nation s highest court was due to hear arguments in that case on October 10.
(This article has not been edited by Zeebiz editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)