By Frederik Stefani
In June of 2017, the Supreme Court partially lifted lower courts’ injunction of the President’s travel ban Executive Order (EO). Immediately, this decision renewed uncertainty for certain travelers from the affected countries of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. Even though the Department of State issued some clarifying memorandums at the time, many people are still confused.
Some things to understand about the Supreme Court’s action:
- Nationals of the six affected countries (Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen) that have dual citizenship (e.g. British – Syrian) are exempt. Also exempt are those who are U.S Citizens or Permanent Residents of the United States.
- Admission of refugees from the six countries in the EO are suspended unless an applicant can establish bona fide relationship to the United States.
- Only people who are applying for a US visa in the future are affected. People who have been granted a US visa prior to the June 29, 2017 Supreme Court decision are not affected and may enter the US anytime. Those visa holders already in the US are also unaffected.
People from the 6 affected countries seeking to apply for a US visa must know the following:
The meaning of Bona Fide Relationship– Since the Supreme Court lifted the injunction of President’s EO, a lot of confusion has surrounded the meaning of a “bona fide relationship.” For the purposes of visa applications, the Supreme Court separates “relationship” into two categories: professional and personal.
- Professional relationship – Travelers from the six countries must demonstrate formal and documented professional reasons to be in the US, such as student visa, work visa for US employment, an invitation to participate in conferences or seminars in the US.
- Personal relationship – Travelers from the six countries must prove a close family relationship to at least one person in the US to qualify for a US visa. Travelers who have, for example, parents (parents-in-law, step parents) spouses, children, fiancés, or sibling of someone in the US will be allowed to travel to the US. The other categories of the family ties such as grandparents, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins, brother-in-law and sister-in-law are not allowed to travel to the US.
It is temporary – The travel ban is temporary, to give the government time to evaluate security procedures. The general prohibition will be for 90 days; the ban for refugee admission will be 120 days. Both affect only the 6 countries, starting June 29.
When the ban expires –The EO is temporary but it is possible that it will be replaced by a new permanent ban. It will depend on the outcome of 90- and 120-day reviews. By fall, we will see new developments on this sensitive subject.
For more detailed information on the EO, see State Department link: https://www.lawfareblog.com/state-department-cable-implementing-travel-ban-executive-order