On Thursday, July 13, U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson issued an opinion that further limits the impact of President Trump’s travel ban. Last month, the Supreme Court allowed a modified travel ban to go into effect that temporarily bans the entry of certain nationals of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. But the Supreme Court said the ban would not affect travelers from those six countries who have a “credible claim of a bona fide relationship” with a person or entity in the United States. The government interpreted this language to mean that it would only grant visas and entry to spouses, parents, children, parents-in-law, sons and daughters-in-law, fiances and siblings (including half-siblings and step-relatives) of people in the United States, if they otherwise qualified. In its recent opinion, the U.S. District Court of Hawaii added that grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, grandchildren, brothers and sisters-in-law, nieces and nephews of those in the United States also qualified as travelers with a “bona fide relationship,” and could not be categorically banned from entry into the United States. The court stated that the initial more limited interpretation contradicts the Supreme Court’s decision and “constitutes cherry-picking.”
The district court also found that refugees who have received assurance from U.S.-based refugee resettlement agencies will be considered to have a “bona fide relationship” with those agencies, which exempts them from the ban. On July 19, 2017, the Supreme Court stayed this part of the order pending resolution of the government’s appeal in the Ninth Circuit.
Currently, the government is applying the expansion order regarding close relatives but is not reconsidering applications that were already decided under the old standard.
Read more about the travel ban, including who it may still apply to, here. If you have any questions about how the travel ban will affect you, your family, or your business, please schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys.