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What does the “Immigration Ban” mean?

What is it?
The Executive Orders issued this year related to immigration and the court cases that followed them have created a new maze of regulations for people entering the United States. Most recently, Executive Order 13780 (EO-2) barred the entry of nationals of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen from entering the United States for 90 days. It also barred all refugees form entering the U.S. for 120 days, and barred Syrian refugees indefinitely.1 EO-2 does not apply to the following groups of people:

  • Lawful permanent residents,
  • Dual nationals traveling on a passport issued by a non-designed country,
  • Individuals admitted to United States on or after June 29, 2017 (effective date of EO-2),
  • Diplomatic visas holders,
  • Asylees/refugees already admitted into the U.S., and
  • Those granted withholding of removal, and protection under the Convention Against Torture or advance parole.2

EO-2 did not reference individuals seeking to enter the U.S. to apply for asylum. Two federal district courts delayed implementation of EO-2 when they issued injunctions. Then, on June 26, 2017, the United States Supreme Court partially lifted the injunctions on the ban. The Court limited the ban so that nationals from the affected countries who have a credible claim of a “bona fide relationship” with a U.S. person or entity may still enter.3

What Constitutes a “Bona fide” Relationship?
The Court did not define “bona fide relationship” but required a “close familial” relationship with respect to persons. The Department of State interpreted “close familial,” to include:

  • Parents,
  • Mothers- and fathers-in-law,
  • Spouses,
  • Fiancés,
  • Children,
  • Adult sons, daughters and siblings and
  • Half-siblings.

Initially, grandparents, grand-children, aunts, uncles, nephews, cousins, brothers- and sisters-in-law and any other family member were not considered to be “close” family members.4 However, on July 20, 2017, the Court denied the government’s motion seeking clarification and failed to overrule a Hawaii District Court decision, suggesting such people are considered as having a “close familial relationship.”

The Court also provided that one’s relationship to a U.S. entity must be formal, documented, and formed in the “ordinary course” – not with the purpose of evading EO-2.5 In addition to close family connections, other “bona fide” relationships that exempt a person from the ban exist for workers who have been offered employment with a U.S. company, students accepted into a U.S. university, and, academic lecturers from the affected countries invited to speak at a U.S. institution as long they provide documents to prove the relationships.

This article was written by Tom Monah and appeared in The Alert: Volume 33, Issue 2. Click here to read a full PDF of this issue!

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