Massachusetts Legal Blog

Supreme Court’s Decision in Trump v. International Refugee Assistance Project

A New Look on the Travel Ban

The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) issued a decision last week in Trump v. International Refugee Assistance Project, et. al. that overruled prior decisions affecting the “Travel Ban” Executive Orders.

In short, SCOTUS ruled the following:

The Travel Ban is Back, Unless There is a Connection with United States

The “travel ban” IS BACK for people from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and YemenUNLESS they have a “connection” with the United States, like a close familial relationship, direct connection with a company or entity in the United States, etc.

The Supreme Court went on to provide some examples of what might be considered a “connection” with the United States. For individuals, a “close familial relationship” was required to be allowed to visit or live with someone in the United States. It is likely that this would include the majority of family–based immigrant visas (where a family member applies to obtain permanent residence/a “green card” for a relative). It would also potentially include visitor’s visas, where the main intent was to visit close family in the United States.

For entities/organizations, SCOTUS indicated that the relationship would have be “formal, documented, and formed in the ordinary course” of business. For example, SCOTUS indicated that students who were already enrolled in a program of studies in the United States would be considered to have enough of a relationship to avoid the travel ban; so too would a speaker at a university or conference, or a new employee at a company in the United States. However, creating a relationship just to avoid the travel ban would not be considered.

SCOTUS also reminded that there was still an option for case by case exceptions. Based on the prior language in the second “Travel Ban” Executive Order, that could still include situations where there would be undue hardship and/or the person can prove they are not a threat, such as a person with significant business reasons for needing to enter, a need for urgent medical care, minors, government employees, etc.

As this order is based on the Second Travel Ban, it should not include Legal Permanent Residents (LPRs/“green card” holders), persons who manage to be paroled (such as persons who are allowed in using advanced parole), dual citizens, diplomats, or persons with asylum, for example.

 Refugees Will be Banned, Unless There is a Close Family Relationship

 Both Executive Orders sought to completely ban all refugees from the United States for a period of time. According to SCOTUS, refugees will be blocked completely and subject to the “ban” UNLESS they have a “close family relationship” with a person or persons in the United States.

Much like the above, having a “close family relationship” to a person in the United States should exempt you from the travel ban. In theory, this would include asylee/refugee relative petitions — where a person granted asylum in the United States, for example, has the option to “pass on” that grant of protection to immediate family members (spouse and minor children) outside the country. Under the Executive Orders as written, even those relatives would be banned for the entire time period. Now, according to the most recent decision, they would be allowed to process regularly, as they have a “close family relationship” to a person in the United States. In addition, SCOTUS held that these relatives could not be blocked by the new numerical limits on refugees coming to the United States.

 More Travel Ban Decisions to Come

 This decision is just temporary, however; the Supreme Court has stated it will hear the full case later on in the year. This ban has become effective last Thursday, June 29, 2017.

It is also suspected that there will be increased litigation over the flexible interpretation of these “connections” to the United States, especially with more ambiguous or less direct relationships.

 If you have concerns over whether the Executive Order could affect you or your family, or you have other immigration questions, feel free to contact the Boston Immigration Division at Shapiro Law Group, PC.