Several organizations are suing the federal government on behalf of 36 people whose visa waivers were denied or delayed
On their first date in April 2015, Fereshteh Abbasi and Chris Gibson couldnt settle on a place to get drinks. Unable to think of a place, they started walking around their neighborhood in Philadelphia.
I was thinking he was so charming, friendly and sweet, Abbasi said. They finally settled on a German bar.
Though they were indecisive on where to go for that first date, when it came to the decision to get married, the couple was set. Gibson proposed in June 2016, and they got married that August.
On 27 January 2017, Donald Trump attempted to fulfill his campaign promise to implement a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States and unrolled the first version of a travel ban that mainly targeted Muslim-majority countries.
For Abbasi, who is from Iran, that was the worst night of my life, she said. That month, she moved to Grenada since her husband attended medical school there. I was just sitting in front of the TV, crying and wondering whats going to happen to us and if I could ever return to the United States.
Abbasi is still unsure if she can move back to the United States with her husband, who is a US citizen. She has yet to get a decision on the waiver she applied for in July 2017. Though its been over two years since the travel ban started, thousands of people from countries under the ban have been in a seemingly indefinite waiting period.
Although there are harsh restrictions on travelers from countries under the ban, which was upheld by the supreme court in June, people can apply for waivers to enter the country. The ban states that close family to US citizens, such as spouses, are appropriate waiver recipients. But many argue the waiver system is a sham because so few people are getting waivers.
The number of people affected by delays is unclear. The only data made public shows that as of last April, 579 waivers were granted from 33,176 applicants. The state department did not respond to the Guardians request for comment.