Washington: US President Donald Trump has issued a new order to impose travel resctrictions on citizens from eight countries including North Korea, expanding the list of nations covered by his original travel ban that has been widely labelled a 'Muslim ban' by critics.
Trump unveiled a revamped travel ban as his controversial immigration order covering six Muslim-majority nations was coming to an end.
The new rule, which will come into effect on 18 October, will continue to target travellers from Somalia, Yemen, Syria, Libya and Iran, but also adds North Korea, Chad and Venezuela to the original list of targeted countries.
Trump's original travel ban had been signed as an executive order in the first days of his presidency.
Sudan has been dropped from the administrations new list and Iraqi citizens will be subjected to "additional scrutiny" but will not face any blanket ban.
"Following an extensive review by the Department of Homeland Security, we are taking action today to protect the safety and security of the American people by establishing a minimum security baseline for entry into the US,"Trump said.
"We cannot afford to continue the failed policies of the past, which present an unacceptable danger to our country. 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," he said.
The White House said that for the first time in history there has been establishment of enhanced national security measures, aimed at creating minimum requirements for international cooperation to support visa and immigration vetting and adjudications for individuals seeking entry to the US.
This is a critical step toward establishing an immigration system that protects Americans' safety and security in an era of dangerous terrorism and transnational crime, it said.
The White House said North Korea did not co-operate with the US government "in any respect" and failed all requirements - and so all travel to the US by its citizens has been banned.
Tensions have flared up between the US and North Korea over the the latter's ballistic missile programme.
Trump's original ban that included Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen and Somalia was highly controversial. It was subject to a range of legal challenges.
Critics have accused the president of discriminating against Muslims in violation of constitutional guarantees of religious liberty and equal protection under the law, breaking existing US immigration law and stoking religious hatred.
Trump had called for a "total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States" during his election campaign.
Noting that all countries share responsibility to prevent terrorist attacks, transnational crime, and immigration fraud, the White House said if nations do not meet the US Governments traveller vetting and information sharing requirements, their nationals may not be allowed to enter the United States or may face other travel restrictions, with certain exceptions.
The new restrictions being imposed on eight countries are conditional and may be lifted as they work with the United States Government to ensure the safety of Americans.
In a statement, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the State Department will coordinate with other federal agencies to implement these measures in an orderly manner.
Asian Americans Advancing Justice (AAAJ), Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), and National Immigration Law Center (NILC) condemned the new presidential proclamation.
"This new nonsensical ban continues to discriminate against immigrants, refugees, and visitors from a group of majority Muslim countries. We will continue to stand up for our communities and fight against any attempt at a Muslim Ban," said Elica Vafaie, Staff Attorney at Asian Americans Advancing Justice.
The new proclamation marks the administrations third move to limit travel into the US. The first one, which was chaotically rolled out in January, targeted refugees and seven Muslim-majority countries..
It was subsequently abandoned by the administration after a series of federal courts blocked it on grounds it violated the US constitutions protection of religious freedom.
The second order, issued in March, targeted six of the same countries. A limited version of the ban was allowed to come into effect over the summer following a temporary ruling by the supreme court.
The new policy is likely to throw a major hurdle in front of the ongoing supreme court challenge to Trumps second order. The nations highest court was due to hear arguments in that case on October 10.