On December 4, 2017, the U.S. Supreme Court issued two orders (available here and here) that allow the Presidential Proclamation of September 24, 2017, otherwise known as the “Travel Ban,” to go into effect while appeals continue in the lower courts.  The practical effect of SCOTUS’s actions is to reinstate this version of the Travel Ban fully.  See our earlier blog entry, New Presidential Proclamation Modifies Travel Ban; SCOTUS Reacts, for a full explanation of which countries are targeted in the revised Ban and which citizens of those countries are subject to U.S. travel restrictions under the Ban.

In October, a federal judge in Maryland granted a temporary injunction preventing the revised Ban from going into effect against those who have a bona fide relationship with a U.S. person or entity.  Another federal court, in Hawaii, also blocked implementation of the Ban.  However, the government appealed those rulings to the federal appellate courts for the Fourth and Ninth Circuits, respectively, where the issues remain pending.  In November, the government went higher still, asking the Supreme Court to allow full enforcement of the Ban while the Fourth and Ninth Circuits consider the government’s appeals of the lower courts’ injunctions.  SCOTUS has now granted that request, although, as each order specifies, Justices Ginsburg and Sotomayor were not in favor of granting.  Both federal appellate courts will hold oral arguments this week, and both have agreed to expedite their decisions so that the Maryland and Hawaii cases may move forward quickly.

If either or both Circuits eventually rule against the government, thereby leaving the lower courts’ injunction in place, the government could ask the Supreme Court to review those rulings.  If that happens and SCOTUS refuses to hear the government’s request for review, then SCOTUS’s orders will automatically terminate, thereby putting the Travel Ban on hold yet again, until final decisions are made in the Maryland and Hawaii federal courts.

On Sunday, September 24, 2017, the White House identified eight countries as inadequately managing identity and security risk information for their citizens who seek admission to the United States or other U.S. immigration benefits and established the following restrictions for those countries:

  • North Korea / Syria:  All immigrant and nonimmigrant visas are suspended.
  • Chad / Libya / Yemen:  All immigrant visas and all B-1 business and B-2 tourist visas are suspended.
  • Iran:  All immigrant visas are suspended, as well as all nonimmigrant visas except F and M student visas and J exchange visitor visas, for which additional screening is required.
  • Venezuela:  All official and B-1/B-2 visas for employees of certain government agencies and their dependents are suspended.  These agencies include the Ministry of the Popular Power for Interior, Justice and Peace; Administrative Service of Identification, Migration and Immigration; Scientific, Penal and Criminal Investigation Service Corps; Bolivarian National Intelligence Service; and Ministry of the Popular Power for Foreign Relations.  Additional screening is required for all other types of visas.
  • Somalia:  All immigrant visas are suspended.  Additional screening is required for all other types of visas.
  • Iraq:  No suspensions, but additional screening is required for all visas and entries.

The proclamation exempts the following classes of individuals, among others, from the above restrictions:

  • Those who seek, or have already been granted, asylum or withholding of removal
  • Those who seek admission, or have already been admitted, as refugees
  • Those who already held valid visas on September 24
  • Those who hold other travel documents – such as transportation letters, boarding foils, or advance parole documents – that were valid on September 24 or are issued after that date
  • Those whose visas were marked canceled or revoked under the initial Travel Ban (January 27, 2017)
  • Nationals of Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen and Somalia who have a credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a U.S. person or entity, but only until October 18, 2017
  • Dual nationals who are traveling on a passport from a non-designated country

Individual waivers are available if the restrictions cause “undue hardship,” if the waiver is in the national interest, and if the iindividual poses no national security or public safety risk.  Subject to those criteria, the proclamation lists examples of potential waiver-worthy cases, including individuals who happened to be outside the United States on September 24, but had previously been admitted on long-term work or study visas and seek reentry to resume those activities; individuals who seek entry to visit or reside with an immediate relative who is a U.S. citizen, lawful permanent resident, or lawful nonimmigrant; infants, young children, adoptees, or individuals who need urgent medical care; dual nationals who hold Canadian permanent residence and apply for admission or visas inside Canada; and others.

Reacting to the proclamation on September 24, the Supreme Court announced that oral arguments on the Travel Ban cases, scheduled for October 10, 2017, were canceled.  SCOTUS also set a deadline of October 5 for the parties in those cases (primarily the state of Hawaii and the International Refugee Assistance Project) to file legal briefs addressing the question of whether their challenges are now moot because of (a) the new travel ban; and (b) the upcoming expiration, on October 24, of the total refugee ban.  SCOTUS could hear oral arguments at a later date or could decide the case on briefs only.

Following the Supreme Court’s recent decision to allow the partial implementation of Executive Order 13780, “Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States” (“EO”), the State Department issued a cable to all diplomatic and consular posts instructing them how to implement the EO, which begins tonight at 8:00 PM EDT.  The ban applies to aliens from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.  Consular officers are instructed to first determine if a visa applicant meets the general visa issuance requirements without regard to the EO and, if so, then to make a determination if the applicant is exempt from the EO’s suspension of entry provision.  If the applicant is not exempt, the officer must determine whether the applicant qualifies for a waiver in order to obtain a visa.

The EO’s suspension of entry provision does not apply to an applicant with a credible claim of a bona fide a relationship with a person (close family members) or entity in the United States.  Personal relationships with “close family members” include:

  • parent (including parent-in-law)
  • spouse
  • child
  • adult son or daughter
  • son-in-law/daughter-in-law
  • sibling, whether whole or half (includes step relationships)
  • fiancé(e)s

“Close family” does not include:

  • grandparents
  • grandchildren
  • aunts/ uncles
  • nieces/nephews
  •  cousins
  • brothers-law/ sisters-in-law
  • and any other “extended” family members.

A relationship with a “US entity” must be formal, documented and “formed in the ordinary course, rather than for the purpose of evading” the EO.  Students accepted to US institutions and workers sponsored for work-authorized visas should still qualify for visas, provided that they are otherwise admissible.  Those entering in relationships to avoid the EO would not qualify.

Those affected by the EO applying for immigrant visas abroad will still be interviewed.  Those not exempt from the EO who do not qualify for waivers will be refused, but Visa Office advisory opinions should be requested by the officers, which may provide relief.

The EO also lists other exemptions and waivers, and can be found here.We suggest that you consult with counsel if you, a relative, an employee, or a prospective employee may be affected by the ban.

We will continue to monitor the situation, and update our blog with further developments and any legal challenges that arise.

Today, the U.S. Supreme Court granted the Trump administration two victories in connection with Executive Order No. 13780, “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States,” commonly known as the “Travel Ban.”
Continue Reading U.S. Supreme Court Grants Certiorari and Partially Allows Some Provisions of Executive Order No. 13780 (the “Travel Ban”)

The Ninth Circuit has just issued a unanimous opinion upholding the Temporary Restraining Order against the Trump Administration’s Executive Order known as the “Travel Ban.” The 3-judge panel unanimously recognized that without the TRO, the states of Minnesota and Washington were likely to be harmed as parens patriae (i.e., legal protector) for their citizens, and also by damage inflicted on “operations and missions of their public universities and other institutions of higher learning,” and their “operations, tax bases, and public funds.”

Continue Reading Ninth Circuit Unanimously Rejects Reinstatement of Travel Ban

The Supreme Court’s docket for its 2009-10 term includes two key immigration cases that will affect immigrants’ access to legal counsel and the federal court system.  In Padilla v. Kentucky, which is set for October 13, the Court will decide whether a criminal defense attorney must advise a foreign-born client on how a criminal case will affect the client’s immigration status, and what remedies the client may seek if an attorney gives incorrect advice.  In Kucana v. Holder, which is set for November 10, the Court will decide whether federal appeals courts have jurisdiction to review certain decisions by the Board of Immigration Appeals.