The travel restrictions start at 8.00 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time today, June 29, 2017. This is according to a cable sent from the Department of State to diplomatic posts worldwide.
HOW WILL THE BAN AFFECT YOU?
The restored ban is very narrow, and many people from the affected countries will still be able to enter the US.
People with Currently Valid Visas
As noted in the March 6, 2017 Executive Order (EO-2), “Individuals [from the six affected countries] who currently hold a valid, unexpired visa may use the visa to travel to the United States.” Thus, an individual with a valid nonimmigrant or immigrant visa should be permitted to board a plane and present themselves for inspection at a U.S. airport or land port of entry.
The DOS cable specifically says that " The suspension of entry in the E.O. does not apply to individuals who are inside the United States on June 29, 2017, who have a valid visa on June 29, 2017, or who had a valid visa at 8:00 p.m. EDT January 29, 2017, even after their visas expire or they leave the United States.... No visas will be revoked based on the E.O...."
Lawful Permanent Residents (LPRs), Asylees, and Others
EO- 2 does not apply to
Individuals Applying for Visas
People from the six designated countries who do not have a valid visa will be required to demonstrate a credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States during the visa interview, or to show that they qualify for a waiver of the ban, as outlined in the E.O. This includes applicants for diversity visas. The cable is not hopeful in this regard: "[b]ased on the Department’s experience with the DV program, we anticipate that very few DV applicants are likely to be exempt from the E.O.’s suspension of entry or to qualify for a waiver."
Business Visas (H, L, E, I, O, P, Q, R, and Employment-Based Immigrant Visas)
The Court stated that a worker who has accepted an offer of employment from a U.S. company would have a bona fide relationship to a U.S. entity. The cable indicates that this covers most employment-based immigrant and nonimmigrant categories, except C, D and I visas.
The cable also excludes people with employment-based visas that do not require a petitioning employer (EB-1, National Interest Waiver).
Family-Related Visas (K, V, and Family-Based Immigrant Visas)
The Court’s order is clear that individuals who “wish to enter the United States to live with or visit a family member” must have close familial relationships. A spouse and a mother-in-law were included by the Court as examples of relationships that would qualify. The DOS cable specifies this definition:
"Close family” is defined as a parent (including parent-in-law), spouse, child, adult son or daughter, son-in-law,
daughter-in-law, sibling, whether whole or half. This includes step relationships. “Close family” does not include grandparents, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins, brothers-laws and sisters-in-law, fiancés, and any other “extended” family members.
Unfortunately (and bizarrely), this means that People applying for a K-1 (fiancee visa) do not qualify.
Students and Trainees (F, M, J)
The Court stated that students who have been admitted to a U.S. university would have a bona fide relationship. The cable says: "Students from designated countries who have been admitted to U.S. educational
institutions have a required relationship with an entity in the United States.".
Visitor for Business (B-1)
The Court stated that a lecturer invited to address a U.S. audience would have a bona fide relationship to a U.S. entity, and the DOS confirmed this in the cable. However, DOS also said that "...a hotel reservation, whether or not paid, would not constitute a bona fide relationship with an entity in the United States."
It is unclear how people traveling to the United States for business conferences or other short-term, non-contractual business interactions will be treated. We recommend having the visitor bring “formal, documented” relationship with a U.S. entity “formed in the ordinary course” of business.
Visitor for Pleasure (B-2)
As noted above, the Court recognized that individuals who wish to “visit a family member,” such as a spouse or mother-in-law, have close familial relationships. Close family was defined in the cable, and is listed above.
People from the six designated countries who are not planning to visit family members and who are coming for other reasons (such as sight-seeing and tourism) may be barred from receiving a visa.
If you have any questions about the ban and how it might affect you, please contact us.
The US Supreme Court today decided to reinstate the second travel ban created by Executive order from President Trump. The ban halted any immigration to the US from six countries (Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen) and was to last for 90 days, while the government reviewed its procedures for vetting immigrants. Refugees were barred from the US for 120 days.
The ban was quickly stayed by lower courts in Hawaii and Maryland, following lawsuits. Today, however, the Supreme Court lifted the stays and said that it would hear full arguments when it reconvenes in the fall. By that point, of course, the issue may be moot as the 90 days will have expired.
The Supreme Court made an exception to the ban for “..... foreign nationals who have a credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States.” In addition, "...the relationship must be formal, documented, and formed in the ordinary course, rather than for the purpose of evading [the travel ban]" One question being raised by immigration lawyers is: who will decide whether there is a "bona fide relationship"?
In the unsigned opinion, the court said that a foreign national who wants to visit or live with a family member would have such a relationship, and so would students from the designated countries who were admitted to a U.S. university. The court also included workers with an offer of employment in the US, thereby allowing workers applying for H-1B, L-1, and other visas to come to the US.
We will monitor the implementation of this ban very closely. If you have any questions, please contact us directly.
More details here.
Full decision here.
On June 22, 2017, the US Supreme Court issued a decision that prevents a person from having their citizenship revoked because of a false statement, when that falsehood was to relevant to eligibility for citizenship.
In the case of Maslenjak v. U.S., the plaintiff - Divna Maslenjak - was originally from Bosnia and because a US citizen in 2007. It emerged that, in earlier immigration application, she had lied about her husband's involvement in the Bosnian conflict. When she completed the N-400, applying for US citizenship, she said "no" in response to the question about whether she had ever misrepresented anything to gain an immigration benefit.
The government argued that this lie justified revoking her citizenship, even though her telling the truth would have prevented her getting citizenship. In advocating for a very strict interpretation of the law, the government lawyers even agreed that minor falsehood, e.g. not disclosing a speeding ticket or membership in a legal, but potentially embarrassing group, was grounds to revoke citizenship.
The justices unanimously rejected the government’s position that it could revoke the citizenship of Americans who made even trivial misstatements in their naturalization proceedings. Justice Kagan wrote "We hold that the Government must establish that an illegal act by the defendant played some role in her acquisition of citizenship. When the illegal act is a false statement, that means demonstrating that the defendant lied about facts that would have mattered to an immigration official, because they would have justified denying naturalization or would predictably have led to other facts warranting that result."
There is no guarantee that Maslenjak will be able to regain citizenship. The case goes back to the lower courts which must decide whether her lies were, in fact, material to her citizenship approval. The significance of this case is that the Supreme Court has stated that the lies must be relevant, whereas the government argued that any misstatement, no matter how insignificant, was enough to revoke citizenship.
Full opinion here: https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/16pdf/16-309_h31i.pdf
The U.S. Department of State has updated its travel warning regarding Iraq. The full text of the warning is below.
Travel within Iraq remains very dangerous, and the ability of the Embassy to assist U.S. citizens facing difficulty is extremely limited. This supersedes the Travel Warning dated January 31, 2017.
U.S. citizens in Iraq are at high risk for kidnapping and terrorist violence. Numerous terrorist and insurgent groups are active in Iraq, including ISIS (also known as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria or as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, ISIL, Islamic State and Iraq ash-Sham, or Da'esh). Such groups regularly attack both Iraqi security forces and civilians. Anti-U.S. sectarian militias may also threaten U.S. citizens and western companies throughout Iraq. Attacks by improvised explosive devices (IEDs) occur frequently in many areas of the country, including Baghdad. U.S. citizens should pay particular attention to the possibility of terrorist attacks around religious and civic holidays.
Methods of attack have included explosively formed penetrators, magnetic IEDs placed on vehicles, human and vehicle-borne IEDs, mines placed on or concealed near roads, mortars and rockets, and gunfire. Such attacks often take place in public places, including cafes and markets. Facilities of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), the U.S. government, and western interests remain possible targets.
The U.S. government particularly warns private U.S. citizens against traveling to or transiting through Iraq, or entering Syria, to engage in armed conflict. In addition to the extreme personal risks of kidnapping, injury, or death posed by such actions, legal risks include arrest, fines, and expulsion. Since the closure of the border between Syria and the Iraqi Kurdistan Region (IKR), the KRG has stated that it will impose prison sentences of up to ten years on individuals who illegally cross the border. U.S. citizens are reminded that fighting on behalf of or providing other forms of support to designated terrorist organizations, including ISIS, can constitute providing material support for terrorism, a crime that can result in penalties, including prison time and large fines in the United States.
The Embassy urges U.S. citizens in Iraq to avoid protests and large gatherings. Iraqi authorities have responded forcefully when violence has occurred, including on two occasions in 2016 when protestors entered the International Zone (IZ) in Baghdad and attacked Iraqi government buildings. These incursions resulted in personal injury to both protesters and security personnel. Demonstrations in Baghdad have also occurred in and around Tahrir Square. Demonstrations in Basrah have occurred at the offices of the Provincial Council and governor.
The Department of State strongly cautions U.S. citizens not to travel near the Syrian, Turkish, or Iranian borders with Iraq, which are especially dangerous and not always clearly defined. U.S. citizens traveling near border areas may encounter aerial or artillery bombardments, unmarked minefields, border skirmishes with smugglers, and large refugee flows. Neighboring governments, including Iran, have detained U.S. citizens who approach these borders.
The Government of Iraq strictly enforces regulations regarding visas and entry, authorizations for weapons, and movements through checkpoints. U.S. citizens traveling to Iraq without the proper authorization or whose purpose of travel is not readily apparent have been detained without warning. For more information on entry/exit requirements, please see our Country Specific Information page for Iraq.
The Government of Iraq has begun to improve the structural integrity of the Mosul Dam. However, a dam failure could cause significant flooding, loss of life, and interruption of essential services from Mosul to Baghdad. While it is impossible to accurately predict the likelihood of the dam’s failing, the Embassy has made contingency plans to relocate its personnel in such an event. The Embassy recommends that U.S. citizens in Iraq who reside in the floodplain of the Tigris River prepare their own contingency plans, have valid U.S. passports, and stay informed of local media reports and Embassy security messages.
The U.S. government considers the potential personal security threats to U.S. government personnel in Iraq to be serious enough to require them to live and work under strict security guidelines. All U.S. government employees under the authority of the U.S. Chief of Mission must follow strict safety and security procedures when traveling outside the Embassy and Consulates. The internal security policies of the U.S. Mission in Iraq may change at any time. The Mission will regularly restrict or prohibit movements by its personnel, often on short notice, for security threats or demonstrations.
U.S. citizens who come to Iraq despite this warning should have medical insurance that provides coverage in Iraq, as well as supplemental medevac insurance to provide medical transport out of the country. The U.S. government does not pay medical bills or medical transport fees for U.S. citizens. Medicare and Medicaid do not cover medical costs outside the United States. Travelers should expect no medical assistance from the U.S. government.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has determined that U.S. civil aviation flying in Iraqi airspace is at risk from ongoing combat operations involving military forces (military aerial combat operations and other militarily-related activity) and militant groups. As a result, the FAA currently prohibits U.S. civil aviation from operating in or overflying Iraqi airspace with very limited exceptions. Foreign airlines operating in Iraq may cancel their operations without warning due to the security environment or other factors. Travelers should remain vigilant and reconfirm all flight schedules with their airline prior to commencing any travel. For further background information regarding FAA prohibitions on U.S. civil aviation, U.S. citizens should consult the Federal Aviation Administration’s Prohibitions, Restrictions and Notices website.
For more information:
Elaine Martin has been practising US and global immigration law since 1997. She is an immigrant herself (from Ireland), so has a special understanding of the legal and emotional challenges involved in relocating to a new country.