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NOTE: This article has been updated.
As promised, Andres Mejer Law is closely monitoring the Trump travel ban and its rollout. Below, we discuss some of the most recent updates.
The Federal Government’s Implementation of the Partial Travel Ban
On June 29, 2017, the federal government started implementing the partial Trump travel ban. According to the Supreme Court’s decision, President Trump cannot ban visa applicants from six Muslim-majority countries and refugees if they have a bona fide relationship with the United States. In the decision, the Court gives three examples of bona fide relationships:
- Having family in the United States,
- Having a legitimate job offer, or
- Being accepted at an American university.
Before the travel ban became effective, the government reviewed the Supreme Court’s decision and interpreted these criteria.
Family in the United States
The Supreme Court states that there is a bona fide relationship if you have close family within the U.S. The Trump Administration is interpreting “a close familial relationship” as:
- Parents and stepparents,
- Spouses and fiancés,
- Children (including adult children),
- Siblings and stepsiblings, and
- Parents-in-law, sons-in-law, and daughters-in-law.
Grandparents, aunts, uncles, nephews, nieces, cousins, and other relatives are not considered “close family.”
Refugees who are already in transit will be allowed to enter through July 6, 2017. After that, Mr. Trump’s executive order halts the processing of refugees for at least 120 days. However, there are exceptions to this rule. Refugees can still be admitted on a case-by-case basis. Additionally, your refugee application will be processed if you have a bona fide relationship with the United States. A relationship with a refugee resettlement agency is not considered a bona fide relationship.
Business Travelers and Tourists
Business travelers and tourists from the six Muslim-majority countries will not receive new non-immigrant visas unless they have a bona fide relationship with the United States. It appears that business people have bona fide relationships if they:
- Have well-documented business relationships in the United States,
- Are professional journalists,
- Currently are travelling with a recognized international organization or agency,
- Are diplomats, or
- Are lecturers who have been invited to speak in the United States,
If you have a valid visa, it will likely be honored.
When immigrants do not have a job or family within the United States, they typically apply for immigrant visas through the diversity visa lottery system. It is unclear whether diversity visa holders have a bona fide relationship with the United States.
Hawaii Files Another Lawsuit Concerning the Trump Travel Ban
On June 29, 2017, Hawaii asked the federal courts to review the Trump Administration’s newest travel ban policies. In its motion, Hawaii asks the court to:
- Define a “close familial relationship,”
- Confirm that refugees with a bona fide relationship can enter the United States, and
- Address whether the government can presume that immigrants lack a bona fide relationship.
We will continue to closely monitor this case.
ORIGINAL ARTICLE BELOW.
Trump Travel Ban to Go Into Effect
On June 26, 2017, the United States Supreme Court permitted partial implementation of the Trump travel ban. While the president has celebrated the Court’s decision as a political “win,” this may be an overstatement. In reality, the Supreme Court’s decision impacts a relatively small group of visa applicants. However, immigration advocacy groups are watching closely for abuse.
Understanding the Travel Ban’s History
There have been two versions of President Trump’s “Executive Order Protecting The Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States” — or, the Trump travel ban. Initially, seven Muslim-majority countries were targeted (including Iraq) and Christian refugees were given preferential treatment. The Trump administration argued that the ban was necessary while it evaluated immigration vetting procedures. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals quickly stopped this first version of the travel ban, finding the president overstepped his authority.
In response to the court’s decision, Mr. Trump revised his original executive order in March 2017. The intent of the changes were to protect the travel ban from additional judicial scrutiny. The March 2017 travel ban imposed the following restrictions:
- No new visas for citizens of six Muslim-majority countries (Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen) for at least 90 days, and
- Halting the U.S. refugee program for at least 120 days.
The government clarified that the travel ban addressed future visa applications — and did not impact current visa holders.
Again, the courts stopped the implementation of the travel ban — voicing concerns about religious discrimination and presidential authority. The Trump Administration appealed these decisions, arguing that the President has broad authority over issues of immigration and national security.
What Parts of the Travel Ban Are Going Into Effect?
The Supreme Court, in an unsigned order, allowed certain parts of the travel ban to take effect. However, the Court imposed a new limitation on the Trump travel ban. The United States cannot bar immigrants with a “bona fide” connection to our country. This includes immigrants that have:
- Family in the United States,
- A legitimate American job offer, or
- A place at an American university.
Additionally, the justices encouraged the government to quickly and effectively finish their review of the visa and refugee vetting processes. In a partial dissent, the Supreme Court’s more conservative justices (Justices Thomas, Alito, and Gorsuch) argue that the Trump travel ban should be fully implemented.
How Will the Partial Trump Travel Ban Impact Immigrants?
Within the legal and non-profit communities, there are differing opinions about how the partial Trump travel ban will impact immigrants. Some, such as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), do not think the partial ban will impact many visa applicants. Others, including Amnesty International, have a bleaker view.
Mr. Trump’s travel ban will be effective 72 hours after the Supreme Court’s decision. It is important to note that the partial travel ban only affects new visa applicants — and not current visa holders. And, if you have a legitimate job offer, university acceptance letter, or family within the United States, the Trump travel ban should not impact you.
Initially, the Trump travel ban caused chaos at American airports and resulted in a flood of litigation. The federal government rescinded tens of thousands of visas. Others were stranded in airports and unnecessarily detained. The federal government is currently reviewing the Supreme Court decision and determining how to implement the partial ban. We are monitoring this implementation closely and are prepared to fight any abuse that occurs.
Finally, this Supreme Court decision is not the Court’s final assessment of the ban. The Court will revisit the travel ban in the fall of 2017 — looking at the constitutionality of Mr. Trump’s executive order and the limits of presidential authority. Whether the ban is upheld may depend on the makeup of the Court in the fall. Justice Kennedy — who is seen as a “swing vote” in the politically split Court — may be contemplating retirement.
An Immigration Lawyer Can Answer Your Trump Travel Ban Questions
If you have concerns about how the Trump travel ban impacts your or a loved one’s visa application, contact an immigration lawyer immediately. American immigration policies are changing quickly and dedicated immigration lawyers are on the front lines fighting for your rights. At Andres Mejer Law, we understand the fear and uncertainty you are facing and are here to help. Contact us for a free and confidential evaluation