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U.S. Supreme Court Partially Upholds Modified Travel Ban

26 Jun

Today the U.S. Supreme Court has partially upheld a modified version of President Donald J. Trump’s Executive Order temporarily banning travel to the United States by citizens and nationals of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen.

President Trump signed an Executive Order on January 27, 2017, which had temporarily banned travel to the United States by foreign nationals from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.  In litigation challenging that original order, U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeal for the Fourth and Ninth Circuits upheld Temporary Restraining Orders (TRO) issued by lower courts, which had prevented enforcement of the travel ban.  As a result of the TRO, on March 6, 2017, President Trump signed another Executive Order for a modified “travel ban”.

The new Executive Order was also challenged in court and was similarly blocked by a TRO, which the Trump Administration appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.  By its terms, the modified order would not apply to U.S. Lawful Permanent Residents or to citizens or nationals of Iraq.  It is this modified order that today’s Supreme Court decision allows the Trump Administration to enforce with respect to those travelers who do not have a “bona fide relationship with any person or entity in the United States.”

Based on the U.S. Supreme Court decision, the Trump Administration may not enforce the travel ban against someone who has a family relationship with someone in the United States, or against someone who has a bona fide relationship with an entity in the United States, such as by attending a U.S. university or working for a U.S. employer.  Other relationships may also qualify but were not specifically mentioned in the decision.

Citizens and nationals of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen should be aware that the travel ban may now be enforced against them, thereby barring their travel to the United States for a period of 90 days, unless they are able to demonstrate their bona fide relationship with a person (e.g., a family member) or an entity (e.g., school, employer, host organization) in the United States.  For individuals traveling to visit family members, travelers should plan to document their family relationship by affidavits and/or birth and marriage certificates.  For those attending school or working in the United States, a valid student or work visa, or other documentation related to the visa application process, such as the Form I-20 or an H-1B visa petition approval notice, should serve as documentation of the requisite bona fide relationship.  Business visitors may be required to document specific relationships already established with a U.S. person or entity.  Additionally, all travelers from these countries should be expected to answer basic questions regarding their relationship to a U.S. person or entity.

The Supreme Court is expected to hear arguments on the case 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, and via future Immigration Updates©.