The recent presidential decree banning immigrants from certain nations refers to 8 USC 1187(a)(12), identifying aliens "from countries referred to in" that piece of law, which explicitly names Syria and Iraq as being on the list. The law also states that other countries might be put on the list, but does not name others. The decree itself does not list any specific countries as being on the banned list, but there seems to be media agreement that the list of seven includes Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen; it also does not include Cuba or North Korea. The relevant pieces of US Code indicate that the Secretaries of State or Homeland Security might maintain such lists, but I can't find clear and current evidence of any such list from which these nations could be identified. The list of countries seems to closely correspond to earlier versions of the "State Sponsors of Terrorism" list, but omits North Korea and includes states which were formerly but are not currently on the list.

Is there any currently-valid government list which identifies Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen (and optionally Iraq and Syria), and no other countries, in a fashion that can be subsumed under the provisions of 8 USC 1187(a)(12)? And, of course, a legally-authoritative source of the list would be needed.

  • There might be two lists, since the countries in addition to Iraq and Syria can be designated either by the Secretary of State "under section 4605(j) of title 50 (as continued in effect under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (50 U.S.C. 1701 et seq.)), section 2780 of title 22, section 2371 of title 22, or any other provision of law," or by the Secretary of Homeland Security under 1187(a)(12)(D).
    – phoog
    Jan 29, 2017 at 6:11
  • Yup, but fortunately the law limits that authority to two departments. However, neither has a publicly-available list from what I can tell.
    – user6726
    Jan 29, 2017 at 15:49

2 Answers 2


Looks like 217(a)(12) of the INA, as referenced in the EO (codified as 8 USC 1187(a)(12)), refers to a list of countries/areas of concern requiring enhanced scrutiny for the visa waiver program under the DHS/U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)-009 Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) System of Records. Iraq and Syria are in the statute. DHS maintains the list. They added Somalia, Yemen, and Libya to the list on 6/17/2016 in 81 FR 39680. Iran and Sudan were added previously.

  • I added a link: this does list the 7 and only the 7, and invokes the relevant authority.
    – user6726
    Jan 29, 2017 at 19:31
  • 2
    Libya, Somalia, and Yemen appear to have been added around February 18, 2016 (and only with respect to people who have visited those countries after March 1, 2011, and not to dual nationals of those countries).
    – user102008
    Jan 29, 2017 at 20:28

The same list of countries seemed to have been targeted before by the Obama administration: https://www.dhs.gov/news/2016/02/18/dhs-announces-further-travel-restrictions-visa-waiver-program.

The mentioned "Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015" can be read in full here https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/house-bill/158/text and it adds the relevant section 1187(a)(12)

  • 1
    If that isn't a currently valid list, the response does not form an answer to the question.
    – user4657
    Jan 29, 2017 at 10:25

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