Travel Ban’s Definition of ‘Close Familial Relationship’ Expanded
On June 26, President Trump’s travel ban was reinstated, in part. The Supreme Court granted the government’s request to stay lower court injunctions, but it added an important detail. According to the Court, the travel ban may not be enforced against foreign nationals who have a credible claim of a bona fide relationship to a close family member or entity in the U.S. The only problem, however, is that the Court did not provide a definition.
Many were left wondering what exactly bona fide family relationship was to include, and how it would affect adjudication procedures. The Department of State responded. It issued a policy memorandum providing guidance as to what qualifies as a bona fide relationship.
Initially, close familial relationship was interpreted to include a parent (including parent-in-law), spouse, child, adult son or daughter, son-in-law, daughter-in-law or sibling (whether whole or half). It did not include grandparents, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins, brother-in-law, sister-in-law, fiancés and any other “extended” family members. To no surprise, this definition was challenged in District Court.
On July 13, 2017, a federal judge in Hawaii expanded the list of bona fide family relationships. U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson ordered the U.S. not to enforce the travel ban on grandparents, grandchildren, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews and first cousins. According to Watson, “common sense, for instance, dictates that close family members be defined to include grandparents … indeed grandparents are the epitome of close family members.”
As of 2 p.m. (EST) on July 17, the DOS FAQ now reflects the District Court of Hawaii’s ruling regarding the definition of “close familial relationship.” This means that the travel ban will no longer be enforced on grandparents, grandchildren, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews and first cousins.
If you are interested in visiting, living or working in the United States, please contact our office to schedule a consultation with one of our knowledgeable attorneys today!