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DHS and DOS Announce New TRIG Exemptions

By Tatyana Delgado

On February 5, 2014, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Department of State (DOS) announced two new exemptions from the terrorism-related inadmissibility grounds (TRIG) found at INA§ 212(a)(3).  

TRIG aims to exclude individuals who have or will engage in terrorist activities, such as providing material support to terrorist organizations or their members.  Material support includes providing transportation, communications, funds, explosives, or training, among other activities. 

Terrorist organizations are divided into three categories or ‘tiers.’  Tier I organizations are known as Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTOs) and Tier II organizations are those found in the DOS Terrorist Exclusion List (TEL).  Tier III organizations, which are groups of two or more individuals engaged in terrorist activities, are undesignated and do not appear on a published list.  See 212(a)(3)(B) of the INA.

In the recent announcement, DHS and DOS acknowledged that TRIG bars certain individuals who are not threats to public safety or national security from obtaining immigration benefits.  As such, DHS and DOS will not apply certain inadmissibility grounds related to material support (specifically, paragraphs 212(a)(3)(B)(iv)(VI)(bb) and (dd) of the INA) to the following:

a) Individuals who provided insignificant material support to Tier III organizations or members of such organizations, or to a person that the individual knows, or reasonably should know, has or will commit a terrorist activity.  See Federal Register Notice, 79 FR 6913, available here.

b) Individuals who provided limited material support to Tier III organizations or members of such organizations, or to a person that the individual knows, or reasonably should know, has or will commit a terrorist activity.   The limited material support must involve: (1) certain routine commercial or social transactions; (2) certain humanitarian assistance; or (3) substantial pressure that does not rise to duress.  See Federal Register Notice, 79 FR 6914, available here.

The reviewing agency has discretion to grant exemptions.  Individuals seeking immigration benefits must meet other requirements, including passing background and security checks.  They must fully disclose information about the circumstances of any material support.  In addition, the given agency must be satisfied that such individuals merit an exemption under the totality of circumstances.  

Implementation directives have followed after announcements of other TRIG exemptions, so stay tuned for further developments on this matter. 

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