The White House has set new criteria for visa applicants from six mainly Muslim countries and all refugees, requiring them to have a "close" family or business tie to the US, BBC reports.

The new guidelines define a close relationship as a parent, spouse, child, son or daughter-in-law, or sibling. However, grandparents, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, in-laws or extended family or grandchildren do not meet the criteria.

Those with valid visas will not be affected.

New applicants will be subject to the new requirements from Thursday night.

The six countries named are Iran, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen.

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