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Australian dual nationals can travel to the US: Malcolm Turnbull

Australian dual nationals will not be affected by Donald Trump's controversial immigration ban, as part of a deal secured with the White House and announced by Malcolm Turnbull on Tuesday.

But late in the day, many hours after Mr Turnbull made the announcement, the US government was far less definitive, with a US embassy spokesperson saying that the State Department was "working closely with the Department of Homeland Security to identify exceptions" to the new Trump plan.

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Australians exempt from US ban

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has revealed Australian passport holders are free to travel to the US despite Donald Trump's crackdown.

This appeared to suggest the White House had not yet given the directive to the State Department or Department of Homeland Security - which is responsible for border protection - and that, at the very least, the exemption being granted to Australian dual nationals had not been implemented.

Mr Turnbull said Australia had secured preferential treatment for citizens who have dual nationality with any of the seven countries included in the executive order, confirmed by Mr Trump's National Security Adviser, General Michael Flynn, and Australia's Ambassador to Washington, Joe Hockey.

The concession comes after citizens of Britain and other nations were given preferential treatment by the new US administration on Monday.

"We have received confirmation from the White House this morning that Australian passport holders will be able to travel to and from the United States in the normal way," Mr Turnbull said.


"They won't be affected by the recent executive order . . . regardless of whether they are dual citizens of another country, or where they were born.

"So that's an important assurance that we've received from the White House this morning and that underlines the way in which my government is working constantly with the new administration to advance and protect the national interest of Australia and the interests of Australian citizens."

But the US embassy spokesperson, in a statement given to Fairfax Media, said: "The Department of Homeland Security and Department of State may, when in the national interest, issue visas or allow entry to nationals of countries for which visas and entry are otherwise blocked under this Executive Order.

"We are working closely with the Department of Homeland Security to identify exceptions to this Executive Order that are in the national interest and will provide additional details as they are available. We will announce changes affecting travellers to the United States as soon as that information is available."After a day of criticism over his response to the ban impacting majority Muslim nations and banning all refugee admissions to the US, Mr Turnbull said he wouldn't join world leaders including British Prime Minister Theresa May and German Chancellor Angela Merkel in publicly criticising Mr Trump.

Asked about criticism by former US ambassador to Australia Jeff Bleich, and claims he is "weak" for not condemning the ban, Mr Turnbull said: "My job as Prime Minister of Australia is to advance the national interest of Australia and protect the interests of Australian citizens."

"So when I need to give frank advice, fearless advice, I do so privately but I don't comment on American domestic policy policy.

"Others can engage in commentary, my job is stand up for Australia, Australians' interests and that's what we've done today," he said.

The change could see a Melbourne schoolboy denied a visa because of the entry bans allowed to visit the US.

Pouya Ghadirian, 15, was born in Australia but holds dual Iranian-Australian citizenship by descent. He was told he could not travel to the US by staff in the Melbourne consulate on Monday.

Mr Turnbull said his case could be reconsidered as a result of the dual-nationals exemption.

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