What Does Supreme Court Decision to Enforce Trump’s Travel Ban Mean?

On Monday, December 4, 2017, the Supreme Court voted 6-to-2 to grant the Trump administration’s request to lift injunctions imposed by lower courts that had partially blocked the travel ban.  Issued on September 24, 2017, the Presidential Proclamation on Enhancing Vetting Capabilities & Processes for Detecting Attempted Entry Into the United States by Terrorists or Other Public-Safety Threats indefinitely blocked the entry for certain individuals from eight countries: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Chad, North Korea, Syria, Somalia, and Yemen.  Lower courts had limited the scope of the ban to people who did not have a bona fide family connection or formal relationship with a U.S. organization, such as a university and resettlement agency.

The ruling means that the visa ban will now go fully into effect for people from these 8 countries in addition to Venezuela, even if they have family members in the United States.  The ban applies to those who are outside the U.S. on the day the ban went into effect and who do not have a valid visa and who do not have a waiver.

Importantly, the ban does not apply to:

  • Lawful permanent residents (green card holders);
  • Individuals admitted or paroled into the U.S. on or after the effective date;
  • Dual-nationals traveling on a passport from a non-designated country;
  • Individuals granted asylum;
  • Refugees already admitted to the U.S.; or
  • Individuals granted withholding of removal, advance parole, or protection under the Convention against Torture

If the foreign national is from one of the countries covered by the travel ban and does not have a valid U.S. visa, a visa will not be issued unless he/she qualifies for a waiver.  Consular officers may, on a case-by-case and discretionary basis, grant a waiver to affected individuals for certain reasons. The person seeking admission must prove that:

  • denying entry to the U.S. would cause the foreign national undue hardship;
  • admission would not pose a threat to the national security or public safety of the United States; and
  • entry would be in the U.S. national interest.

Persons from one of the impacted countries who hold a valid visa may be able to enter the United States.  The travel ban states that no visas will be revoked and that those with a valid visa are not covered by the ban.  Nonetheless, visa holders should consult with an immigration attorney prior to traveling to understand the risks of departing the United States and seeking a new entry.

About the Author: Robin Vermette 

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