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Travel Ban Guidance

On June 26, the Supreme Court partially restored President Trump’s travel ban. To gain entry to the U.S., individuals from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen are now required to demonstrate a credible claim of a “bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States.” Implementation of the travel ban began at 8 p.m. (EDT) on June 29, 2017.

What is a “bona fide relationship”? The Supreme Court did not answer this question. Many have been left wondering how the decision will affect adjudication procedures, and who it will impact. The Department of State has responded. A policy memorandum has been issued to all diplomatic and consular posts around the world. It explains how officers are to approach visa applications, and it provides guidance as to what qualifies as a “bona fide relationship.” For starters, the travel ban does not apply to:

  • Applicants who have a credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the U.S.;
  • Applicants who are inside the U.S. on June 29, 2017;
  • Applicants who had a valid visa at 5 p.m. EST on January 27, 2017;
  • Any applicant who has a valid visa on June 29, 2017;
  • Lawful permanent residents;
  • Applicants who are admitted to or paroled into the U.S. on or after June 26, 2017;
  • Applicants who have a document other than a visa, valid on June 29, 2017, or issued on any date thereafter, that permits him or her to travel to the U.S. and seek entry or admission, such as advanced parole;
  • Any dual national of a country designated under the order when traveling on a passport issued by a non-designated country;
  • Any applicant traveling on an A-1, A-2, NATO-1 through NATO-6, C-2, C-3, G-1, G-2, G-3, G-4, or a diplomatic-type visa of any classification;
  • Applicants who have been granted asylum;
  • Any refugee who has already been admitted to the U.S.
  • Any individual who has been granted withholding of removal, advanced parole, or protection under the Convention Against Torture; or
  • Any V92 or V93 applicant.

Bona fide relationship with a person. Individuals with a bona fide relationship to a close family member in the U.S. are exempt from the travel ban. This is defined as a parent (including parent-in-law), spouse, child, adult son or daughter, son-in-law, daughter-in-law or sibling (whether whole or half). A close family relationship does not include grandparents, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins, brother-in-law, sister-in-law, fiancés and any other “extended” family members.

Bona fide relationship with a U.S. entity. Individuals are exempt from the travel ban if they have a formal and documented relationship with a U.S. entity. The relationship must be formed in the ordinary course of business rather than for the purpose of evading the travel ban. The exemption would not apply to an applicant who enters into a relationship simply to avoid the travel ban. Examples of a bona fide relationship with a U.S. entity include, but are not limited to:

  • Students from designated countries who have been admitted to U.S. educational institutions;
  • A worker who has accepted an offer of employment from a company in the U.S.; or
  • A lecturer invited to address an audience in the U.S.

Waivers. Individuals lacking a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the U.S. may still gain admission by seeking a waiver. A consular officer is permitted to grant waivers and authorize the issuance of a visa on a case-by-case basis when the applicant demonstrates three criteria:

  1. Denying entry during the 90-day suspension would cause undue hardship;
  2. His or her entry would not pose a threat to national security; and
  3. His or her entry would be in the national interest.

If you have questions on immigrating to the United States, please contact our office to schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys today!