Green card holders exempted from travel ban: US

SEATTLE, WA - JANUARY 29: Protestors hold up signs in front of effigies of U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin during in a demonstration on January 29, 2017 in Seattle, Washington, against Trump's executive order banning Muslims from certain countries. The rally was one of several in the area over the weekend. (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON: Legal permanent US residents from seven countries whose citizens are covered by a three-month American travel ban+ won’t need special permission to come back to the United States, after all, the Trump administration announced on Wednesday.

White House spokesman Sean Spicer said green card holders will now be allowed to enter and leave the United States as they please, despite the ban. Spicer’s announcement was the latest effort to clarify and adjust President Donald Trump’s executive order banning travel and immigration from seven majority-Muslim countries.

The order, signed on Friday, has caused drawn international criticism and spawned widespread panic among travellers and apparent confusion within the government about how the order should be implemented.

In the earliest hours of the travel ban , green card holders were blocked from getting on planes overseas or detained upon their arrival. Also blocked were some Iraqi nationals with special visas issued to people who helped US troops fighting in that country.

As of Tuesday. more than 1,000 green card holders had been let in under a special waiver, acting Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan said.

Spicer said on Wednesday that for “the sake of efficiency,” green card holders “no longer need a waiver.”

The executive order also included a four-month halt to the US refugee program.

The decree suspends the arrival of all refugees for at least 120 days, Syrian refugees indefinitely and bars citizens from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen for 90 days.