Bogus Visa Waiver Stories

Q: Did President Trump sign an executive order allowing foreign nationals from various countries to enter the U.S. without a visa?

A: No. That bogus claim was made in a series of articles published by fake news websites.

 

FULL QUESTION

Is it true President Trump cancelled the need for visas for temporary entrance into the United States?

FULL ANSWER

No, Trump hasn’t eased visa restrictions for citizens of other countries coming to the United States. Earlier this year, the fake news website USA Television published a series of bogus articles claiming that Trump signed executive orders allowing nationals from various countries to travel to the U.S. without visas.

One such article said that “Trump signed an executive order to allow all Caribbean nationals travel to the United States without visas.” The article claimed that “the new order, serving as a change in visa policy for Caribbeans traveling to the United States, would permit Caribbean nationals stay in the U.S. for a maximum period of 180 days for tourism or business purposes only.” It added: “Stay over 180 days would therefore require a visa.”

Other articles on the USA Television website, using nearly identical language, claimed Trump signed similar orders for nationals of BotswanaKenya, Jamaica, South Africa, Zambia, Uganda, Ghana, Malawi, Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Haiti, Thailand, Mauritius and Papua New Guinea.

The fabricated stories claimed that the moves were made to “strengthen trade.”

And stories posted on other fake news websites claimed that Trump had signed similar orders for nationals of Gambia and all of Asia, too.

They’re all wrong.

American embassies around the world have publicly denied rumors of Trump allowing visa-free travel to the United States, denouncing the reports as “untrue” and “false and unsubstantiated.” The U.S. embassy in Bridgetown, Barbados, even put out this video debunking such claims:

Visa Waiver List of Countries NOT ChangedThe U.S. Embassy to Barbados, the Eastern Caribbean, and the OECS advises the public that, contrary to rumors, the list of countries participating in the U.S. Visa Waiver Program has NOT changed. Please click on the link to see the complete list of countries whose citizens are currently eligible to travel to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program.https://travel.state.gov/…/en/visit/visa-waiver-program.html

Posted by U.S. Embassy Bridgetown on Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Most foreign nationals traveling to the U.S. can only enter visa-free if their home country is part of the Visa Waiver Program. The program, administered by the Department of Homeland Security in consultation with the Department of State, allows citizens of 38 countries to enter and stay in the U.S. for up to 90 days without a visa. Such travelers do need an Electronic System for Travel Authorization, or ESTA, approval to enter the U.S.

Canada, Bermuda and the Bahamas are not included in the Visa Waiver program, but those countries have other agreements with the United States to allow travel to the U.S. for their citizens without a visa, in most cases, for a temporary stay.

Trump did sign an executive order on Jan. 27 suspending entry into the U.S. for 90 days of citizens and visa holders of seven countries: Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen. A federal judge issued a temporary restraining order on Feb. 3, blocking portions of the order from being enforced and allowing all refugees and visa holders from the seven affected countries to travel to the U.S. Then on Feb. 9, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco unanimously denied the Justice Department’s emergency motion to have the travel ban reinstated, pending full consideration of the case on its merits.

But that executive order did not remove any preexisting restrictions on any of the countries that were mentioned by USA Television and other websites. And none of the other executive orders that Trump has signed since then has eased visa restrictions.

Editor’s note: FactCheck.org is one of several organizations working with Facebook to help identify and label viral fake news stories flagged by readers on the social media network.

Sources

United States Travel Authorization Application. Canadian Citizens, ESTA, and U.S. Visas. Accessed 17 Feb 2017.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Visa Waiver Program. Accessed 17 Feb 2017.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Bahamian citizen document requirements. Accessed 17 Feb 2017.

U.S. Department of State. Bureau of Consular Affairs. Visa Waiver Program. Accessed 17 Feb 2017.

U.S. Embassy Lilongwe. January 30 at 9:19 a.m. Post on Facebook.com. Accessed 17 Feb 2017.

U.S. Embassy Kuala Lumpur. January 26 at 1:41 a.m. Post on Facebook.com. Accessed 17 Feb 2017.

U.S. Embassy Bridgetown. “Visa Waiver List of Countries NOT Changed.” Video post on Facebook.com. Accessed 17 Feb 2017.

USA Television. “Donald Trump signs a visa-free travel policy for Botswana.” Accessed 16 Feb 2017.

USA Television. “Donald Trump signs a visa-free travel policy for Uganda.” Accessed 16 Feb 2017.

USA Television. “Donald Trump signs a visa-free travel policy for South Africa.” Accessed 16 Feb 2017.

USA Television. “Donald Trump signs a visa-free travel policy for entire Caribbean.” Accessed 16 Feb 2017.

USA Television. “Executive Order: Donald Trump signs visa-free travel policy for Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine.” Accessed 16 Feb 2017.

USA Television. ” ‘100 U.S Visas per Year for Oman’ — Donald Trump Signs Executive Order.” Accessed 16 Feb 2017.

WhiteHouse.gov. Executive Orders. Accessed 17 Feb 2017.

Office of the Press Secretary. “Executive Order Expediting Environmental Reviews and Approvals For High Priority Infrastructure Projects.” WhiteHouse.gov. Accessed 17 Feb 2017.

Office of the Press Secretary. “Executive Order: Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States.” WhiteHouse.gov. Accessed 17 Feb 2017.

Office of the Press Secretary. “Presidential Memorandum Regarding the Mexico City Policy.” WhiteHouse.gov. Accessed 17 Feb 2017.

Office of the Press Secretary. “Presidential Memorandum Regarding Withdrawal of the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership Negotiations and Agreement.” WhiteHouse.gov. Accessed 17 Feb 2017.

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