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US issues New Visa Criteria for Six Muslim Countries

The US has issued new criteria for visa applicants from six Muslim countries. The US Supreme Court has partially restored President Trump’s executive order that banned travel of people from the six Muslim-majority countries. President’s executive order was widely criticised as a ban on Muslims.

Salient Facts

As per the new criteria, applicants from the six Muslim-majority countries must prove a relationship with a parent, spouse, child, adult son or daughter, son-in-law, daughter-in-law or sibling in the US. In short, the applicants must prove a “close” family or business tie to the United States.

As per the new guidelines, grandparents, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins, brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law, fiancées or other extended family members will not be considered as close relations by the US State Department.

However, the applicants can be exempted from the ban if they can prove a “bona fide relationship” with a US person or entity. The Supreme Court has given only a broad guidelines on such relationships and has suggested that such bonafide relationships would include a relative, job offer or invitation to lecture in the US. The Government lawyers must determine how to define such a relationship.

The new guidelines are expected to come into force immediately.

Background

Earlier this year, US President Donald Trump had signed an executive order that banned travel of people from Muslim-majority countries into the US for a period of 90 days. These countries were Iraq, Iran, Libya, Yemen, Somalia, Sudan and Syria. Besides, the order had also suspended US Refugee Admissions Programme for 120 days and indefinitely barred entry of refugees from Syria.

The executive order and the controversial ban had sparked protests and debates across the US. Even, the lower courts of these countries had labelled the ban as discriminatory. Subsequently, the White House had asked the Supreme Court to reinstate a travel ban on people from the six Muslim-majority countries. Ultimately, the Supreme Court’s nine justices overturned the rulings of the lower court and have partially restored President Trump’s order.

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US tax reform: Trump introduces biggest tax reform plan in US history

US President Donald Trump has introduced biggest tax reform plan in the history of United States. As per the proposals of the new plan, major cuts have been made in the income tax rate. the income tax rates have been slashed from 39.6% to 35%. The new plan has also sharply slashed the business taxes. Steep discounts have been announced on corporate profits that are brought back into the US.

The new plan proposes for a 15% corporate tax rate which is a sharp drop from the existing 35%. In addition, the new reforms aim to move to a territorial tax system that provides relief to both small and large businesses. It is also proposed to repeal the estate tax, the alternative minimum tax. In addition, tax relief will be provided to the families with child and dependent care expenses. Further, the number of tax brackets is expected to be brought down to three from seven.

However, under the US law, only the Congress is empowered to make major changes to the tax laws.

Impact

These reforms are hailed as the biggest tax cut and largest tax reform in the history of the United States. According to the economists, the new tax reforms are likely to add trillions of dollars to the deficit over the next decade.  As far as India is concerned, the reforms are expected to further push up stock markets which have already responded positively.

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