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
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.