Department of State Cable Provides Guidance on Implementation of Teavel Ban, Effective Today


In the wake of the very recent Supreme Court decision concerning Presidnt Trump’s “Travel Ban,” the U.S. Department of State has sent a cable notifying Consular Officers at U.S. Embassies and Consulates all over the world to begin enacting the now-permissible portions of the ban. In particular, individuals from six primarily-Muslim countries (Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen), will be temporarily banned from the U.S. unless they can establish a “bona fide relationship” with a person or entity in the United States. The Supreme Court offered some guidance on what might qualify as an appropriate “bona fide relationship”—such as coming to visit a “close family member”, to study at a U.S. university, to work for a U.S. business, or to give a lecture to a U.S. audience. The Department of State cable released today (June 29, 2017) provided further, narrow definitions of what relationships may qualify as “bona fide relationships” for the purposes of determining who is now subject to the travel ban. The Department of State cable confirms that the Travel Ban will become effective worldwide as of June 29, 2017 at 8 PM Eastern Daylight Time, and that Consular Officers will be expected to follow the cable’s definitions and guidance immediately thereafter.

What is a “Close Family Relationship”?

According to the Department of State cable, a “close family relationship” is defined to include a parent, spouse, child, an adult son or daughter, son-in-law, daughter-in-law or sibling, as well as stepfamily relationships. This definition formally and explicitly excludes grandparents, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins, brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law, fiancés and other “extended” family relations.

Further Guidance on Bona Fide Relationships to U.S. entities

The Department of State cable also provided further information on how individuals must establish a bona fide relationship to a U.S. entity. According to the cable, individuals must establish that their relationship with a relevant U.S. is “formal, documented, and formed in the ordinary course, rather than for the purpose of evading the [travel ban].”

Who is Exempt from the Travel Ban?

In addition to those with a bona fide relationship to a close family member or U.S. entity, the Department of State cable also verified that the following individuals are still exempt from the travel ban:

· Any applicant who was in the United States on June 26, 2017;

· Any applicant who had a valid visa at 5:00 p.m. EST on January 27, 2017 (the day Travel Ban Executive Order was signed);

· Any applicant who had a valid visa on June 29, 2017;

· Any lawful permanent resident of the United States;

· Any applicant who is admitted to or paroled into the United States on or after June 26, 2017;

· Any applicant who has a document other than a visa, valid on June 29, 2017, or issued on any date thereafter, that permits him or her to travel to the United States and seek entry or admission, such as advance parole;

· Any dual national of a country designated under the order when traveling on a passport issued by a non-designated country;

· Any applicant travelling on an A-1, A-2, NATO-1 through NATO-6 visa, C-2 for travel to the United Nations, C-3, G-1, G-2, G-3, or G-4 visa, or a diplomatic-type visa of any classification;

· Any applicant who has been granted asylum;

· Any refugee who has already been admitted to the United States;

· Any individual who has been granted withholding of removal, advance parole, or protection under the Convention Against Torture; and

  • Any V92 or V93 applicant.

Can Anything Be Done for Those Who Are Not Exempt?

The Department of State cable also re-confirms the ability for impacted individuals to apply for a hardship waiver of the Travel Ban on a case-by-case basis. The cable also provides clarification and guidance concerning what circumstances would warrant the grant of a hardship. According to today’s cable, individuals may qualify for a waiver of the Travel Ban if they can demonstrate that: a.) being denied entry during the 90-day suspension would cause undue hardship; b.) his or her entry would not pose a threat to national security; and c.) his or her entry would be in the national interest. The Department of State cable provides further guidance by providing the following examples of when the grant of a hardship waiver would be appropriate:

· The applicant has previously established significant contacts with the United States but is outside the United States on the effective date of the travel ban for work, study, or other lawful activity;

· The applicant seeks to enter the United States for significant business or professional obligations and the denial of entry during the suspension period would impair those obligations;

· The applicant is an infant, a young child, or adoptee, an individual needing urgent medical care, or someone whose entry is otherwise justified by the special circumstances of the case;

· The applicant is traveling for purposes related to an international organization designated under the International Organizations Immunities Act, traveling for purposes of conducting meetings or business with the United States government, or traveling to conduct business on behalf of an international organization not designated under the IOIA; or

· The applicant is a permanent resident of Canada who applies for a visa at a location within Canada; and

· The applicant is a high-level government official traveling on official business who is not eligible for the diplomatic visa normally accorded to foreign officials of national governments (A or G visa). Examples include governors and other appropriate members of sub-national (state/local/regional) governments; and members of sub-national and regional security forces

What’s Next?

The Travel Ban will be in place for 90 days beginning on June 29, 2017 at 8 PM Eastern Daylight Time. Individuals who do not have a bona fide relationship to a close family member or U.S. entity, or otherwise fit within the exemptions listed above, will not be able to receive U.S. visas, and will therefore be effectively banned from coming to the United States during this period. The Supreme Court has agreed to hear the so-called Travel Ban case in-full when it re-convenes for its next term in the Fall.

About The Author

Bernard Wolfsdorf Bernard Wolfsdorf is the managing partner of the top-rated law firm, Wolfsdorf Rosenthal LLP (, and the past national president of the 14,000-member American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA). Established in 1986, Wolfsdorf Rosenthal LLP is known worldwide for providing exceptional quality legal services. With 19 lawyers and offices in Los Angles and New York, the firm was recently listed as a top-tier immigration practice by Chambers & Partners with several of the firm's attorneys listed in the 2015 International Who's Who Legal. Mr. Wolfsdorf specializes in EB-5 investment immigration in addition to the full range of global immigration matters. Matthew Beatus is an Associate in the firm’s New York office. Mr. Beatus specializes in all areas of immigrant and nonimmigrant visa applications with a focus on employment-based and other business related visa categories. He assists a full range of professionals in achieving their unique immigration goals, including investors, artists, engineers, and key multinational corporate managers/employees. Robert Blanco specializes in business and employment immigration cases. He prepares both immigrant and non-immigrant petitions for skilled workers, executive managers, high net worth investors, and people of extraordinary ability in the arts, sciences, and business. Joseph Barnett is an Associate Attorney at Wolfsdorf Rosenthal LLP and a member of the firm’s EB-5 and business immigration practices. He is licensed as an attorney in Illinois and Wisconsin and practices exclusively in immigration and nationality law.

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