Bustos Law Firm

President Trump’s Partial Travel Ban Goes Into Effect: What You Need To Know

In Immigration, Uncategorized on July 17, 2017 at 3:13 PM

imagesPresident Trump seeks to place a 90-day ban on visas being issued to people from six, mainly Muslim countries: Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen, and a 120-day ban on refugees entering the United States. Because of two nationwide federal court injunctions, President Trump’s previous two Executive Orders banning these individuals never went into effect. However, on June 26, 2017, the Supreme Court partially granted the government’s motion for a stay of the injunction by narrowing it so as not to apply to foreign nationals who have a credible claim to a “bona fide relationship” with a person or entity in the U.S; all other foreign nationals are subject to this most recent Executive Order (EO2). The Court, however, offered limited guidance on what qualifies as a “bona fide relationship.”

On June 28, 2017, the U.S. Department of State (DOS) provided further instructions on how the partial travel ban was to be enforced. Specifically, a bona fide relationship with a person was interpreted to be a “close family” relationship, defined as a parent, in-laws, spouse, child, adult child, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, and whole and half siblings. Grandparents, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins, brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law were not deemed to be “close family” relationships.

However, on July 13, 2017, Judge Derrick Watson of the U.S. District Court for the District of Hawaii ruled that the State Department’s definition of “close family” was too limited, and that as a result, the Trump administration did not follow the Supreme Court’s instructions in enforcing the temporary travel ban. Accordingly, grandparents and other extended relatives are now exempt from the travel ban. Judge Watson also ruled that refugees who have a relationship with a refugee aid agency in the U.S. are also now exempt.

A bona-fide relationship also includes a foreign national who wishes to enter the U.S. to live with or visit a family member, a student at a U.S. university, an employee of a U.S. company, or a lecturer invited to speak at a University. A qualifying relationship with a U.S. entity requires a relationship that is “formal, documented, and formed in the ordinary course, rather than for the purpose of evading the EO.” Individuals from the six previously mentioned countries that already have a valid visa on June 26, 2017 are also not affected by EO2. The ban also does not apply to Lawful Permanent Residents (“LPR”), Dual Nationals traveling on a non-banned passport, individuals traveling on an advance parole document or that have been granted asylum, as well as refugees already granted admission into the U.S.

Judge Watson had already enjoined two previous versions of the President’s travel ban from being enforced in response to a lawsuit by the state of Hawaii alleging the policy discriminates against Muslims. In his injunction, Judge Watson ruled that there was “significant and unrebutted evidence of religious animus” behind the ban. The Trump administration appealed his decision to the San Francisco-based Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which mostly upheld the injunction.  However, on July 14, 2017, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the Trump administration will appeal the latest travel ban ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court, thereby bypassing the San Francisco-based appeals court that has ruled against it previously in the case.

On July 19th, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Trump administration can still enforce the part of its travel ban that temporarily bans refugees from entering the U.S. However, Judge Watson’s Order on the expanded definition of close family ties was left intact by the Court.  As a result, grandparents, grandchildren, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, uncles, aunts, nieces, nephews and cousins of individuals living in the U.S are still exempt from the travel ban.  The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on the travel ban in October after the justices return from their summer recess.

For further information on the travel ban please see the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s FAQ page located at: https://www.dhs.gov/news/2017/06/29/frequently-asked-questions-protecting-nation-foreign-terrorist-entry-united-states.

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