Over the weekend, president Donald Trump hastily signed an executive order billed as a security measure, which among other things, banned all refugees from entering the U.S. for 120 days, and placed a 90-day hold on entry to the U.S. by travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries in the Middle East and northern Africa (these include Iraq, Iran, Syria, Yemen, Sudan, Libya, and Somalia). The controversial move plunged the super-charged political climate into further disarray, and also drew thousands of protestors (including lawyers ready to help affected travelers pro bono) to airports around the country.
U.S. travelers are likely wondering what all of this means for their next trip abroad, even if they consider themselves outside the bounds of the groups at the center of the issue. Here are five things you'll want to do, and know, in the wake of the order:
1. Summon patience during a period of confusion.
First of all, it's clear this is a swift-moving time of transition, and a developing story. Many remain unclear how the order affects U.S. green card holders and people with dual citizenship from an approved country as well as from one of the banned nations. So far, administration officials appear to have offered some contradictory data on these matters. So as with all things travel related — even in simpler times — it's best to exercise as much patience and calm as possible when traveling through airports to and from destinations abroad. To that end...
2. Allow more time.
Protesters swarmed airports over the weekend, when the ban took effect immediately. In Los Angeles, for instance, the throng temporarily blocked both arrivals and departures. Naturally, such demonstrations also affect ground transportation in and out of airport areas — and created a PR headache for Uber, which appeared to try to capitalize on the situation — so leave plenty of time for possibilities ahead of your next flight.
3. Know your refund options.
If you're directly affected by the ban, you can be reassured that you might not be financially out of pocket for the plans that changed for reasons you didn't control. America, Delta, and United are among the airlines who are promising affected customers' full refunds as well as some other accommodations. British Airways and Emirates Airlines also said they will offer refunds or rebooking options, as will Air France subject to penalties.
4. Make absolutely sure you have the documents you need.
If you have a green card or a visa, make sure you travel with your documentation in order to get back into the U.S., including with a passport from your home country as well as your card showing U.S. residence. Find more info on the Department of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services' website. Over the weekend, customs officers started detaining those who hold visas or green cards if they were from one of the seven countries named by the ban, and dual-citizens and green card holders from the banned countries were often subect to a secondary search, according to Travel + Leisure. So be prepared for the possibility this will happen to you. Obviously, all travelers — including American passport holders — should be doubly sure they travel with essential documents at all times.
5. Know your destination's stance on the ban.
Many countries around the world, such as the U.K., Canada, France, and Germany were quick to speak out strongly against Trump's executive order. According to Reuters, Iran said it would, in turn, ban U.S. citizens from entering. The Hill cites experts who believe that more countries affected by the ban could impose restrictions on U.S. travelers, which could make it harder for American tourists to travel abroad.
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