Travel Ban Update – Who is Affected? Travel Ban Update – Who is Affected?

Travel Ban Update – Who is Affected?

President Trump’s “Travel Ban” was signed just one week after he took office in January, and nearly six months later, its fate still remains unknown. A final decision appears to be on the horizon, as the U.S. Supreme Court recently agreed to hear arguments on the case during its October term. In granting certiorari, the Court temporarily reinstated the travel ban for foreign nationals from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen, but only when those individuals lack a bona fide relationship with a U.S. person or entity. Foreign workers employed by U.S. companies, foreign students admitted to U.S. schools, and foreign nationals with close familial relationships with individuals in the U.S. are, thereby, excluded from the travel ban.
 
Things are not expected to stay quiet leading up to the October term, and there is ongoing debate over who the temporary reinstatement actually affects. As the reinstatement took effect worldwide in accordance with the Supreme Court’s decision, the State Department issued guidance confirming that “close familial relationship” included a parent, parent-in-law, spouse, fiancé, child, adult son or daughter, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, and sibling, including whole, half, and step relationships. The U.S. District Court then issued a decision modifying the prior preliminary injunction, which effectively adds grandparents, grandchildren, brothers-in law, sisters-in-law, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, and cousins to the list of close familial relationships. The decision also includes refugees obtaining formal assistance from a U.S. resettlement agency as meeting the bona fide relationship requirement. The Trump administration quickly responded, asking the Supreme Court to override the District Court’s ruling and apply the State Department’s original definition of who is excluded from the travel ban.
 
The Supreme Court is expected to weigh in on this issue too. But even then, the confusion is likely to ensue. While it is clear that international travel for foreign workers with valid work visa approval should not be affected, officers at the U.S. Embassies, consulates, and ports of entry continue to have significant discretion. Such decisions affect both visa issuance abroad, as well as the admission of foreign nationals at U.S. ports of entry. The practical implication of how this latest development will be interpreted remains to be seen.
 
The temporary reinstatement of the travel ban is set to expire just before the Court’s review in October. The stated intent of the 90-day ban, when announced as part of the Executive Order in January, was to allow for additional vetting of visa issuance procedures. By the time the Court takes up the issue, the administration will have had nearly 9 months for such review, causing many to question the administration’s next move.
 
With the uncertainty surrounding long-term implications and the continued unpredictability of the immediate implementation of the travel ban reinstatement, foreign nationals from the affected countries should discuss specific risks and international travel needs with their employers and immigration counsel.
 
Please contact Christl Glier, Jenifer Brown, or any member of the firm’s Immigration Group with questions.

This publication is intended for general information purposes only and does not and is not intended to constitute legal advice. The reader should consult with legal counsel to determine how laws or decisions discussed herein apply to the reader’s specific circumstances. 
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