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What family members would be exempt from the travel ban?

The revised travel ban is expected to go into force later today. This comes after a U.S. Supreme Court decision this Monday which allowed certain portions of the ban to proceed. Later this year, the court will be hearing oral arguments on the ban.

The ban will apply to certain visitors from six countries: Sudan, Somalia, Libya, Yemen, Syria and Iran.

Now, in the decision allowing the ban to proceed, the Supreme Court did put some restrictions on it. Among these limits is that the ban cannot be used on individuals who have a “bona fide relationship” with someone in America.

The Supreme Court did not provide a detailed explanation of what exactly constitutes a bona fide relationship. Among the things this raised questions on are what this limit means for relatives of people who are living in America. Which such relatives would be exempt from the ban and which wouldn’t?

The State Department recently put out guidelines regarding this issue. Under these guidelines, “close relatives” of individuals who are in the U.S. are to be exempt from the ban. Reportedly, the family members defined as close relatives are:

  • Daughters/sons (both adults and minors).
  • Daughters/sons-in-law.
  • Spouses.
  • Parents.
  • Parents-in-law.
  • Siblings (both whole and half).
  • Step relationships of the above relationships.

Meanwhile, family members not deemed “close relatives” are not exempt from the ban under the guidelines. Such family members include:

  • Siblings-in-law.
  • Fiancés.
  • Cousins.
  • Nieces/nephews.
  • Aunt/uncles.
  • Grandchildren.
  • Grandparents.
  • Other extended relatives.

One wonders what will happen with the enforcement of the ban and these guidelines as parts of the ban are put into force.

The guidelines on the upcoming travel ban are yet another example of how what specific family relationship a person in the U.S. has with a relative who wishes to come to the U.S. can significantly impact the family immigration options that are available. When a person is navigating immigration matters regarding trying to get a family member admitted into the U.S., it can be vital for them to have an accurate understanding of what particular options are (and aren’t) available. Immigration attorneys can help individuals with questions they have about what impacts the travel ban, or other immigration policies and rules, would have on family immigration goals they have regarding relatives.

Source: The New York Times, “Stepsister, Yes; Grandma, No: U.S. Sets Guidelines for Revised Travel Ban,” Gardiner Harris and Ron Nixon, June 28, 2017

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