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Travel Ban Update: Grandparents and Refugees

July 25, 2017

On June 26th, the Supreme Court ruled that a narrow portion of the Trump travel ban could go in to effect, even before they issue a final decision on the constitutionality of the ban this fall. However, the court’s decision stopped short of specifying exactly who would be affected by the ban, leaving some details to the Trump administration to sort out.

Specifically, the Trump administration was left to decide two important questions:

1)      Which family relationships qualify as a ‘close’ relationship (for the purposes of exempting a traveler from the ban); and,

2)      Whether a relationship with a U.S.-based refugee resettlement agency was sufficient to exempt a refugee from the ban.

On June 29th, the administration clarified that a relationship with a refugee resettlement agency would not exempt a refugee from the travel ban, and they also specified which sorts of family relationships would exempt a national from the six affected majority-Muslim countries (Libya, Iran, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen) from the travel ban. However, a district court in Hawaii found fault with the administration’s decision, and placed another injunction on the ban. Now, the Supreme Court has partially lifted that injunction, meaning that a narrow form of the travel ban can finally be implemented – but only for the following individuals:

  • Refugees from any country who do not have a qualifying relationship to a U.S. person or entity. The Supreme Court upheld the administration’s determination that a relationship with a refugee resettlement agency would not count as a qualifying relationship (for the time being).
  • Nationals of six majority-Muslim countries (Libya, Iran, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen), with the following lengthy list of exceptions:
    • Anyone with a currently valid visa
    • U.S. green card holders (permanent residents)
    • Asylees
    • Parolees (those traveling on Advance Parole)
    • Anyone granted withholding of removal and/or CAT
    • Diplomats
    • Dual nationals (where one of the countries is not among the six listed above)
    • Anyone with a qualifying relationship to a U.S. entity, such as an employer or school
    • Anyone with a qualifying relationship to a U.S. person, including:
  • Parents (including parents-in-law)
  • Spouses
  • Fiancés
  • Children and children-in-law (of any age)
  • Siblings (whole or half)
  • Grandparents
  • Grandchildren
  • Aunts and uncles
  • Nieces and nephews
  • Cousins
  • Siblings-in-law

Those relationships listed in italics had not been included in the Trump administration’s initial list of qualifying relationships, but will be considered as qualifying relationships following the Supreme Court’s decision.

Put simply: the ban is currently in effect for many refugees who would otherwise have been permitted entry to the U.S., but is in effect for only a very narrow group of Libyan, Iranian, Somalian, Sudanese, Syrian and Yemeni nationals (those with basically no pre-existing ties to the U.S.).

If you or someone you know has questions about the travel ban, please contact an immigration attorney. You can contact the attorneys at Landau, Hess, Simon and Choi by calling 215-925-0705, or by clicking here to request a consultation.

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