Officials Aim to Clarify Impact on Dual Nationals From Trump's Immigration Executive Order

PHOTO: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Acting Director Thomas Homan, left, and Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly listen to questions during a press conference concerning travel and refugees, January 31, 2017 in Washington, DC.PlayGetty Images
WATCH Homeland Security Chief: Trump Executive Order 'Not a Ban on Muslims'

In an effort to clarify how dual nationals are impacted by Trump’s immigration executive order, government officials on Tuesday issued updated guidance.

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As long as the individual holds a passport from an unrestricted country, possesses a valid U.S. visa and uses the passport from the unrestricted country, they will be allowed to travel to the U.S., according to State Department and DHS officials.

There was widespread confusion over the weekend at airports in the U.S and around the world after Trump signed the order last Friday. The directive prohibits citizens from Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen from entering the U.S. for 90 days. It also temporarily suspends admission for refugees for 120 days and indefinitely bars refugees from Syria.

On Saturday, the State Department issued guidance that said, "beginning January 27, 2017, travelers who have nationality or dual nationality of one of these countries will not be permitted for 90 days to enter the United States or be issued an immigrant or nonimmigrant visa."

Despite reversing course and issuing alternate guidance, U.S. officials said this was not backtracking, but rather a clarification of order.

Officials worldwide scrambled over the weekend to tell people with dual-national status how to interpret the president's order.

For example, the U.S. consulate in Erbil posted a message to its Facebook page Saturday advising all Iraqi nationals, including dual nationals, not to schedule travel to the United States "at this time."

And after seeking clarity, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in a statement earlier this week that he had been assured that "holders of Canadian passports, including dual citizens, will not be affected by the ban."

The dual national clarification refers to people who hold a passport from one of the seven restricted countries and a nonrestricted country. For example, someone who is a dual national of the U.K. and Somalia or India and Yemen. It does not impact U.S. citizens that have dual citizenship.

"Another question that has come up is whether dual nationals are treated differently. Travelers will be assessed at our border based on the passport they present, not any dual-national status. So if you're a citizen of the United Kingdom, you present your United Kingdom passport and the executive order does not apply to you upon arrival," said Acting Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Commissioner Kevin McAleenan at a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) press conference Tuesday.

According to a State Department official, dual nationals who hold the passport of an unrestricted country and possess a valid U.S. visa may resume travel to the United States.

Embassies and consulates around the world will process visa applications and issue nonimmigrant and immigrant visas to otherwise eligible visa applicants who apply with a passport from an unrestricted country, even if they hold dual nationality from one of the seven restricted countries, said the official on Tuesday.

Trump’s executive order sparked protests across the country and federal lawsuits were filed in New York, Massachusetts, Virginia and Washington, prompting district court judges to issue emergency stays, causing CBP to change course in some cases. Lawsuits continue to be filed throughout the week in opposition of the order.

During the Department of Homeland Security press conference Tuesday, officials acknowledged that communications surrounding the initial roll-out of the executive order "haven't been the best."

"It's fair to acknowledge that communications, publicly and interagency, haven't been the best in the initial roll-out of this process," said McAleenan.

However, he said that CBP has now communicated with the State Department and government employees are working with airlines to make sure the rules are implemented correctly.