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Details Emerge on Implementation of Modified Travel Ban

29 Jun

On June 28, 2017, the U.S. Department of State issued a memorandum to consular posts implementing the President’s Executive Order 13780, which temporarily halts travel to the United States of citizens and nationals from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen.  On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court partially upheld the President’s travel ban, allowing it to go into effect with respect to applicants who do not have a credible claim to a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States.

The State Department will begin enforcing the modified travel ban today, at 8:00 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time (EDT), but will not apply the ban to individuals who have already been issued a visa or who are already present in the United States.  Consular posts will still schedule visa interviews for individuals who may be impacted by the ban, in order to allow each applicant the opportunity to establish his or her claim to a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States.

Applicants will first be evaluated on all other grounds of inadmissibility or ineligibility, and if found inadmissible or ineligible for the requested visa classification, would be denied visa issuance without reference to the travel ban.

Visa applicants from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen who are otherwise determined admissible and eligible for the visa will be required to document their bona fide relationship to a close family member or a school, business, or organization in the United States.  Any qualifying relationship must be “formal, documented, and formed in the ordinary course, rather than for the purpose of evading” the travel ban.

For those seeking to establish their bona fide relationship to a close family member, the relative in the United States must be a spouse, parent, parent-in-law, child or adult son or daughter, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, or sibling.  Grandparents, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins, fiancés, and sibling in-laws are not considered close family members for purposes of establishing an exception to the ban.

Applicants should be prepared to present original birth and/or marriage certificates, as applicable, to establish the relationship.  Establishing the required relationship to a mother-in-law, for example, would require presentation of a marriage certificate to document the applicant’s relationship with his/her spouse, and the spouse’s birth certificate to establish the spouse’s relationship to his/her parent.

For those seeking to establish their bona fide relationship to a school, business, or organization in the United States, officials are likely to require documentation of the official, pre-established relationship, or a relationship that developed subsequently in the normal course of business rather than after the travel ban as a means of evading the travel ban.  Hotel reservations are not sufficient to establish a bona fide relationship with a U.S. entity.

Students would be expected to present their valid Form I-20 or DS-2019.  Employees should be able to present their valid petition approvals and offer letters.  Returning workers should also be able to present prior Forms W-2 or earnings statements as well as any previously-issued work visas (e.g., H-1B, L-1).  Guest lecturers should have invitation letters from the university or organization inviting them to present.  In order to establish that the relationship was not entered into for the purpose of evading the ban, the lecturer should be prepared to document that the lecture was scheduled prior to the Supreme Court decision on June 26, 2017, or perhaps that the lecturer has routinely traveled as a guest lecturer in the past.  Other business travelers should be prepared to present documentation of the nature of their relationship with the U.S. person or entity as well as the date and manner the relationship was formed.

The new guidelines implementing the modified travel ban are likely to remain in effect for 90 days, during which time new applicants without qualifying connections may be ineligible for a visa to enter the United States.  Those applicants who have already been issued a visa should be permitted to enter, even if they are unable to document their qualifying connections, but such visitors must still satisfy all other criteria for admission under the category requested when they appear before U.S. Customs & Border Protection (CBP) for inspection.

Applicants who have questions about their eligibility to travel to the United States or who require assistance in preparing for their visa applications should contact their Foster immigration attorney for assistance.

The Supreme Court is expected to hear arguments on the validity of the travel ban in October 2017.  Foster will continue to monitor the impact and implementation of the revised Executive Order, as well as the continued litigation before the Supreme Court, and will provide updates as they become available via Foster’s website at www.fosterglobal.com, and via future Immigration Updates©.