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Biden lifts visa ban on Sudanese winners of green card lottery

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January 20, 2021 (KHARTOUM) - The newly-sworn in US president Joe Biden moved quickly to reverse immigration-related policies enacted by his predecessor Donald Trump including one impacting Sudanese citizens.

US President Joe Biden signs executive orders in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, after his inauguration as the 46th President of the United States (Tom Brenner/Reuters)

A year ago, Trump issued a proclamation restricting entry partially or fully to nationals of six countries including Sudan on national security and public safety grounds.

"Sudan generally does not comply with our identity-management performance metrics and presents a high risk, relative to other countries in the world, of terrorist travel to the United States" last year’s order reads.

But Trump decided that because Sudan is" transitioning to civilian rule" which would improve bilateral cooperation that he will impose a minimal restriction.

As a result, winners of the annual US green card lottery were generally barred from obtaining an immigrant visa that would allow them to live and work permanently in the US unless they qualify for a limited exception.

Sudanese officials said they worked tirelessly over the past year to address US concerns related to passport issuance process and information sharing.

However, the Trump administration kept Sudan on the travel ban list despite several appeals from Khartoum to lift it most recently during negotiations late last year on normalization with Israel.

The ban angered wide swaths of Sudanese who religiously apply to the lottery every year. Last year around 6,000 of them won a chance at US permanent residency.

In his proclamation today, Biden described the travel bans as "stain on our national conscience and are inconsistent with our long history of welcoming people of all faiths and no faith at all".

"[T]hese Executive Orders and Proclamations have undermined our national security. They have jeopardized our global network of alliances and partnerships and are a moral blight that has dulled the power of our example the world over. And they have separated loved ones, inflicting pain that will ripple for years to come. They are just plain wrong" he said.

He also ordered the Secretary of State to submit a report within 45 days on ways to address the situation of those who were denied under Trump’s travel bans expeditiously.

The proclamation also asks for a report on information sharing with foreign governments and current visa screening processes.

(ST)

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