Yesterday, our firm released a blog that outlined the predicted effect of the Supreme Court partially allowing President Trump’s travel ban to take effect while the Court’s decision is pending. Our conclusion was that, while the partial ban was disheartening, full implementation would be difficult considering the inherently vague language the Court used in allowing the ban’s enforcement.
According to the Supreme Court, any immigrant with a “bona fide relationship” to any “person or entity” in the United States, could not be barred from entering the U.S. Obviously, this left many to wonder what exactly a “bona fide relationship” entailed and how closely an immigrant had to be connected to a person or entity to fall under the safety umbrella laid out by the Court.
Today, the Trump administration released official guidelines for how this ban is to be implemented by the Department of Homeland Security. According to the new rules, a “bona fide relationship” with a person requires a “close relative living in the U.S.” The term “close relative” is limited to a parent, spouse, child, adult son or daughter, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, or sibling. However, relationships such as grandparents, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins, brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law, and fiancees, are excluded.
According to the guidelines, a “bona fide relationship” with an entity must be “formal, documented, and formed in the ordinary course, rather than for the purpose of evading the [executive order].” While this includes a job offer from a U.S. company or an invitation to speak as a guest lecturer at a U.S. university, a hotel reservation or a sponsorship by a non-profit would not be sufficient to qualify.
All existing visas will still be honored, avoiding the airport fiascos that ensued after the first ban took effect. Regardless, immigration advocacy groups have moved to dispatch immigration lawyers to certain airports in case incoming immigrants are stopped at the airport as they were before.
The guidelines released draw harsh lines, the validity of which are already being questioned by many working in civil rights advocacy and immigration policy. This implementation will almost certainly unleash a new wave of litigation, mirroring the effects of the two previous bans. The only light at the end of this tunnel is that the Supreme Court’s decision will finally result in definitive clarity on this issue. Until then, however, many immigrants are left questioning the fate of their immigration statuses.
If you are an immigrant from one of the countries named in ban, it is imperative that you and your family stay up-to-date on developments in this story. These policies are changing rapidly and the full effects of the partial ban’s implementation remain unclear. For more information about this issue, or any immigration issue generally, please contact an attorney at Stilwell & Slatton, by calling 202-333-2100 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.