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Who exactly is covered by the revised travel ban?

Last week, our blog discussed how the Supreme Court of the United States finally handed down a decision on the Trump administration's so-called travel ban. To recap, the justices, via an unsigned order, permitted a more limited version of the travel ban to proceed and scheduled oral arguments to decide the merits of the case when they reconvene in the fall.

Specifically, SCOTUS called for a partial lifting of the injunctions against that section of the executive order calling for visa applications for individuals from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen to be put on hold for 90 days. The justices did indicate, however, that this travel ban could not be imposed against foreign nationals [from the six nations] who had "a credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States."

Questions immediately arose in the aftermath of the decision as to what having a "bona fide" connection in the U.S. might look like, meaning which individuals should be able to secure a visa and enter the country per the normal routine.

Interestingly enough, the State Department issued new guidelines designed to help clarify some of this confusion to U.S. consulates and embassies last week.

What familial relationships constitute a bona fide connection?

The guidelines make clear that the following familial relationships or "close family" are not covered by the travel ban: parents (in-laws included), children, spouses, adult children, siblings (step and half relationships included), and sons- and daughters-in-law.

What about other close family relationships?  

The guidelines expressly indicate that the definition of "close family" does not include the following: grandchildren, grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins, fiancés, nieces, nephews, brothers- and sisters-in-law, and all other "extended" family members.

What establishes a bona fide connection with a U.S. entity?

According to the guidelines, a bona fide connection with a U.S. entity exists where the relationship is "formal, documented and formed in ordinary course, rather than for the purpose of evading" the executive order.

For example, an invitation to deliver a speech, accept a job offer or attend a university would likely qualify.

It will be interesting to see how much confusion unfolds in the coming weeks, as well as whether these definitions are challenged in court.

Consider speaking with a skilled legal professional if you have questions or concerns relating to the travel ban or another aspect of U.S. immigration law.

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