On Sunday, US President Donald Trump issued a new executive order to replace last year's controversial temporary ban on travelers from Sudan, Syria, Yemen, Iran, Somalia and Libya.
North Korea, Chad and Venezuela were added to the list because they were not willing to cooperate, improve information-sharing and identity-management protocols and procedures, and address both terrorism-related and public-safety risks.
Sudan was dropped from the list of banned countries after the Sudanese government provided information required under the new criteria set out by the US administration earlier this year.
The new restrictions on travel vary by country and include a phased-in approach beginning next month.
Trump tweeted just after his administration released the details of the restrictions saying: "Making America Safe is my number one priority. We will not admit those into our country we cannot safely vet."
In a statement Sunday night, the White House said the new restrictions are a critical step toward establishing an immigration system that protects US safety and security in an era of dangerous terrorism and transnational crime.
"We cannot afford to continue the failed policies of the past, which present an unacceptable danger to our country," Trump said in the White House statement, adding: "my highest obligation is to ensure the safety and security of the American people, and in issuing this new travel order, I am fulfilling that sacred obligation."
The Presidential Proclamation also indicated that out of nearly 200 evaluated, a small number of the countries remain deficient at this time with respect to their identity-management and information-sharing capabilities, protocols, and practices. In some cases, these countries also have a significant terrorist presence within their territory.
The proclamation excluded: foreign nationals who had been admitted to the United States for a continuous period of work, study, or other long-term activity, and those who have previously established significant contacts with the United States but are outside the United States on the applicable effective date under section 7 of this proclamation for work, study, or other lawful activity.
White House National Security Adviser Herbert McMaster commented saying: "If you can't screen people effectively to know who's coming into your country, then you shouldn't allow people from that country to travel."
A White House official pointed out that these limitations are vital to the national security, but can be lifted if security measures improved as with the case of Sudan.
The official also stated that Iraq was not on the list even though it did not meet its baseline security requirements. However, Baghdad is a close ally and supports the presence of large numbers of US troops and civilians, reported AFP.
Meanwhile, state officials said that the addition of North Korea and Venezuela showed that the measure was based on security standards and was not a Muslim ban as opposers claim.
A senior government official told reporters that religion was not a factor.
"The inclusion of those countries, Venezuela and North Korea, was about the fact that those governments are simply not compliant with our basic security requirements," he explained.
The official proclamation stated that even though Chad had shown a clear willingness to improve in these areas, it didn't adequately share public-safety and terrorism-related information and failed to satisfy at least one key risk criterion.
In addition, there are several active terrorist groups in the country such as Boko Haram, ISIS-West Africa, and al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.
Venezuela, undergoing critical economic and political crisis, was added to the list for not cooperating with the vetting process. However, the ban only includes several Socialist government officials, officials from the Bolivarian National Intelligence Service and their immediate families.
Trump’s previous ban was issued in March and sparked international outrage and was quickly blocked by federal courts as unconstitutional discrimination or a violation of immigration law. It also created chaos in airports and immigration offices.
The new restrictions with the added three countries will take effect on October 18.