The US Embassy in Oslo seemed as surprised as everyone else when President Donald J Trump suddenly issued another controversial Executive Order just before the weekend that bans refugees and the residents of seven mostly Muslim countries from entering the country. After initially being unable to respond to questions from Norwegian media, the embassy has now released some “updated guidance” for dealing with the sudden ban on Tuesday afternoon.
The ban has been criticized by as many as 200 US diplomats not long after several other senior State Department staffers resigned in protest over Trump’s policies. Embassy staff around the world is nonetheless left to explain the ban on entry for all citizens of Iraq, Iran, Syria, Sudan, Somalia, Libya and Yemen.
Trump’s decision to ban them was described as a means of “protecting the nation from terrorist attacks by foreign nationals.” It thus suggests that all citizens of the seven countries singled out by Trump and his staff are terror suspects, and that’s been criticized by Norwegian officials.
The embassy’s text goes on to claim that the order, which bars entry for 90 days from January 27, was necessary “to allow for proper review and establishment of standards to prevent terrorist and criminal infiltration by foreign nationals.” Statistics released in the US have since shown that not a single citizen of any of the seven countries has ever killed an American on US soil. There was no explanation as to why Saudi Arabia, which was home to many of the terrorists that did kill thousands of Americans on September 11, 2001, was exempted from Trump’s ban. Also exempted were Pakistan and Afghanistan, both countries where Taliban terrorists remain active.
The US Embassy in Oslo reported that Norwegian citizens who also hold passports from one of the seven countries singled out in Trump’s ban should still be able to enter the US. The embassy confirmed, however, that those only holding passports from one of the restricted countries “are barred from traveling and applying for admission to the US” even if their passports contain a valid visa to the US. No visa interviews for people with passports from the seven targeted countries will be scheduled during the 90-day period. That may be extended for Syrians, who face the most uncertainty.
Norway, the embassy noted, is not a restricted country, so travel to the US for Norwegian citizens should be permitted as usual.
Norwegian officials had earlier estimated that more than 50,000 residents of Norway would now be denied entry to the US, including all permanent residents originally from any of the seven countries who do not hold Norwegian citizenship. Several academic professionals have already lost access to the US.
To read the full text of the embassy’s statement, click here.