POLITICS

Australia And UK Offer Conflicting Advice Over Trump's Muslim Ban

Confusion reigns.

30/01/2017 9:07 AM AEDT | Updated 30/01/2017 3:24 PM AEDT

CANBERRA - Donald Trump's sweeping Muslim travel ban and plans for "extreme vetting" of refugees have been placed in motion, but the judiciary and protestors are fighting back.

Known as "Protecting the Nation from Terrorist Attacks by Foreign Nationals" and described by opponents as "illegal and unconstitutional," the U.S President's executive order bans citizens of seven predominantly Muslim countries -- Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen -- from entering the U.S. for 90 days.

Dozens of passengers with valid visas have been detained, even some green card holders.

The Barack Obama-negotiated U.S/Australia deal for the U.S. to take refugees who had been detained on Manus Island and Nauru is apparently -- after a Trump Turnbull chat on Sunday -- still a goer, but details are extremely thin on the ground.

"We will continue to work with our friends in the United States on the arrangement but will not provide a running commentary through the media," the Immigration Minister Peter Dutton said in a statement.

Meantime, Australian officials are looking into what the Muslim travel ban means.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said on Monday afternoon her department was working to clarify exactly what it means for Australian dual citizens.

I have directed our officials in Washington DC to work with US officials to ensure any preferential treatment extended to any other country in relation to travel and entry to the United States is extended to Australia.

The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs (DFAT) has listed changes to rules for travellers, including dual citizens.

This is what we know, so far.

And it is different to what UK citizens are being advised by the UK Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson.

All Australians who have travelled to Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria or Yemen since 2011 must now apply for a United States visa. According to DFAT, the visa waiver program between Australia and the U.S no longer applies to these travellers.

Dual citizens of Iran, Iraq, Sudan, or Syria are no longer eligible for the visa waiver program and must apply for a U.S. visa. DFAT advises that such dual citizens are "likely" to have previous travel authorisation revoked.

UK citizens are being told that Trump's ban only applies to individuals travelling from one of the seven named countries and if you are a dual citizen of one of those named countries travelling to the U.S. from outside those countries than the ban does not apply.

DFAT advises that Australians affected by the ban will need to apply for a non-immigrant visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate.

Travel ban exceptions will be made for Australians who have travelled on official Australian Defence Force (ADF) or Australian Government business, but no exceptions will be made for government officials or ADF members who are dual citizens of Iran, Iraq, Syria or Sudan.

But the U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security could consider waiving the ban on a case-by-case basis. Possible scenarios include "legitimate business," work for state and territory governments, people who work for humanitarian groups and Australian foreign correspondents.

Australian airline Qantas is offering a refund or a change of destination to anyone affected by the Trump's executive order.

"Qantas notes the advice from the U.S. government regarding tighter entry conditions," a spokesman for the airline said.

"While the changes are unlikely to impact a material number of Qantas passengers, we will offer a refund or change of itinerary to those affected."

This could all change, or be added to, at short notice, so if you are planning to travel to the U.S contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate of the United States or, as ever, check the United States section of DFAT's Smart Traveller website.


This story has been updated to include a statement from Foreign Minister Julie Bishop.

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