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As of June 26th 2017, the Trump travel ban for travelers to the US from six countries including Iran appears to be in force again. Does this impact visa applications that were lodged before this date, or are they grandfathered in?

  • Should we have a tag like "us-travel-ban" (preferably without the name of the POTUS) for these questions? – Andrew Grimm Jun 27 '17 at 2:23
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    As I understand it, the SCOTUS ruling only reinstated the ban partly; namely only to people without a "bona fide relationship" with a US entity. Examples of such relationships would include family members, employer/employer, or school/student. – fkraiem Jun 27 '17 at 2:48
  • Right. So it would affect all "genuine" tourists who have no prior connection to their destination but for a desire to visit. – Roddy of the Frozen Peas Jun 27 '17 at 3:21
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    @RoddyoftheFrozenPeas Well, would a hotel booking, for example, constitute a "relationship" with the hotel? It seems plausible (certainly, the hotel would be financially harmed in case of a no-show), and in that case the Government would have to prove that the booking was made for the purpose of evading the ban... This is presumably the kind of thing three Justices had in mind in their dissent to the ruling, calling the "bona fide relationship" criteria "unworkable." – fkraiem Jun 27 '17 at 3:36
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    @Calchas The "permanent character" interpretation, on the other hand, does not really square with the lecture example; a lecture can certainly be very short. – fkraiem Jun 30 '17 at 0:01
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This is my understanding of the Supreme Court ruling on this matter (IANAL, etc.).

Basically, the travel ban is reinstated only for individuals who do not "have a credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States" (p. 12). The Court's reasoning being that, if such a relationship is present, the harm caused to the U.S. person or entity in question by not allowing the foreign individual to enter outweighs the Government's interest in maintaining national security.

What constitutes "a bona fide relationship"? If the relationship is with a U.S. individual, "a close familial relationship is required." If it is with a U.S. entity, it "must be formal, documented, and formed in the ordinary course, rather than for the purpose of evading" the ban; the Court further explains:

The students from the designated countries who have been admitted to the University of Hawaii have such a relationship with an American entity. So too would a worker who accepted an offer of employment from an American company or a lecturer invited to address an American audience. Not so someone who enters into a relationship simply to avoid [the ban]: For example, a nonprofit group devoted to immigration issues may not contact foreign nationals from the designated countries, add them to client lists, and then secure their entry by claiming injury from their exclusion.

State Department guidelines issued to U.S. embassies and consulates and reported by The New York Times make the further two clarifications:

  • Acceptable family relationships are "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," including "step relationships.” They thus do not include, in particular, "grandparents, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins, brothers-in-laws and sisters-in-law, fiancés and any other 'extended' family members."
  • About relationships with U.S. entities, the only further clarification made is that hotel reservations do not qualify.

Note that even if you do not have such a relationship, this does not necessarily mean that you can't enter the U.S.; only that the Executive Order applies to you as written, including its numerous exceptions (so if one of those exceptions applies to you, you can enter).

For pending visa applications, if you are found to be ineligible for entry to the U.S. in light of the ruling (i.e., if you do not have a relationship with a U.S. person of entity and none of the exceptions provided in the Executive Order applies to you), you become ineligible for a visa as well. Otherwise, your application is unaffected by the ruling.

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