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Left to Right: Mohammad Oulabi, Aula Ali, and Abdullah Noaman

The travel ban has left some Penn students scrambling for housing and summer plans. 

Credit: Joy Lee

College freshman Aula Ali's long-awaited plan to go back home to Sudan during the summer was ruined when President Trump introduced his first executive order on immigration in January.

Although Trump’s revised travel ban for citizens of six Muslim-majority countries no longer applies to international students in the United States who have a valid visa, it has still affected students’ plans for the summer.

Because Ali's visa has expired, she cannot return home. She said that she is uncertain as to when she can renew her visa.

“I had my ticket and everything,” Ali said. “It was really disappointing to find that I couldn’t go back home anymore. There was just a lot of uncertainty, and I didn’t know what was going to happen.”

Upon the realization that she could not go back home to Sudan for the summer, Ali frantically had to search for work-study jobs on campus that provided free accommodation in college dorms. Executive Director for Education and Academic Planning Rob Nelson previously told The Daily Pennsylvanian that Penn is working on a “case-by-case basis” to ensure that students affected by the order find an alternative summer plan.

College freshman Mohammad Oulabi, who was raised in Aleppo, Syria, but moved to Egypt at the age of 15, said that although he has a valid student visa, he will most likely not be returning home to Syria this summer.

“I’m a bit skeptical [to go back],” Oulabi said. “I was planning on going back home, but I’m not sure anymore.”

For College freshman Abdullah Noaman, whose native country Iraq has been taken off the list of banned countries, the revised travel order is no longer a direct threat.

“I do feel safer right now just because Iraq is off the list,” Noaman said. “I know that I can now travel out of the country and actually come back.”

Noaman added, however, that the International Student and Scholar Services at Penn told him he would most likely still be susceptible to delays and other difficulties at the airport when trying to get back into the United States. They also told him that he may have to go through extra processing.

If Iraq had remained on the list, Noaman said that he might have had to change his summer plans. After the first executive order was issued, he said that he was expecting to stay in the United States if the ban had been extended, but he remained hopeful that it would end before the summer began.

Although the ban no longer directly targets Noaman, he said that he still condemns the order.

“Even though it is a relief that Iraq is off the ban, I still do believe that I have a responsibility to denounce the ongoing ban because my friends and so many others are affected.”