Following these actions several federal courts ruled that the Executive Order is likely unconstitutional and/or exceeds the President’s authority under the Immigration and Nationality Act.  These courts issued injunctions preventing the government from enforcing the Executive Order.  The injunctions essentially meant that the travel ban was fully suspended while the government petitioned the Supreme Court.  As a result of the injunctions, citizens of the banned countries could continue to obtain visas, and could continue to travel to the United States as though the Executive Order had not been issued.

The United States government asked the Supreme Court to take an appeal.  In order for the Supreme Court to hear an appeal, the court must first grant “certiorari”.  By granting certiorari, the Supreme Court will now hear arguments on the issue of constitutionality of the Executive Order in October. 

In the meantime, the Supreme Court made changes to the injunctions.  The Supreme Court ruled that the injunctions were too broad, and needed to be limited.  In the decision granting certiorari, the Supreme Court said that the Executive Order banning travel may not be enforced against foreign nationals who have “a credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States.”  Other foreign nationals from the listed countries are subject to the travel ban.

The Supreme Court went on to give examples of what qualifies as “bona fide relationships”:

“The facts of these cases illustrate the sort of relationship that qualifies. For individuals, a close familial relationship is required. A foreign national who wishes to enter the United States to live with or visit a family member, like [a] wife or [a] mother-in-law, clearly has such a relationship. As for entities, the relationship must be formal, documented, and formed in the ordinary course, rather than for the purpose of evading Executive Order–2 [the March Executive Order]. 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 Executive Order: 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.”

The impact of this ruling is thisColleges and universities should consider taking additional steps to document the bona fide relationship with (1) international students from the listed countries traveling to the United States to attend school or to resume studies, (2) faculty and staff who are traveling to begin work or to resume work after foreign travel, and (3) individuals invited to campus to give specific presentations, lectures, performances, etc. This additional documentation should include:

  • For International Students:  A letter from the registrar confirming that the student has been admitted to the college or university, and confirming the date that the academic program will commence.  The student should also have a valid I-20, and if enrolled for the coming semester, a course listing of classes they will take.
  • For Faculty and Staff:  A letter from the institution’s international office or other authorized individual confirming that the faculty/staff member is employed by the institution and is coming to the United States to undertake (or resume) employment.  If there is an employment contract or appointment letter, the individual should carry that as well, and copies of recent paystubs (for existing employees). 
  • For Invited Lecturers or Presenters:  A letter of invitation from the institution formally inviting and outlining the terms of the presentation, lecture, performance, etc. and any remuneration that will be provided in terms of honorarium and/or reimbursement of expenses.

There is no guidance (yet) regarding what types of evidence will suffice to allow individuals impacted by the Executive Order to travel.  The key is to document that there is a verifiable relationship between the institution and the individual.   

Notes:

    The original executive order indicated that other countries could be added to this list in 60 days depending on the foreign governments’ responses to requests for visa adjudication information. Sudan has now been dropped from the list, and 3 countries were added: Chad, North Korea, and certain citizens of Venezuela.

    Numerous Federal judges have issued temporary stays on certain provisions of this order. The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments on the original case, which may be affected by the most recent proclamation.  However, in previous orders, the Court has allowed portions of the travel ban to be implemented, while also stating that foreigners with a “bona fide relationship” with a person or entity in the United States must be exempted from the ban.  

General tips to international students and faculty

  • If you are a citizen of Iran, Syria, Sudan, Libya, Yemen, or Somalia*, we strongly urge you NOT to travel internationally even if you are a United States permanent resident.  We will continue to update this website as we learn of new developments and as the lawsuits make their way through courts, but for now, it is not advisable to travel.   
  • For all of our non-immigrant students and faculty, please note that the suspension of the visa interview waiver program means that your visa renewal process may take longer than it has previously.  We strongly advise you not to travel over short breaks (e.g., Spring Break) if your visa must be renewed.  Keep in mind that everyone will need a visa interview, even for renewals, which likely means much longer wait periods for all. 
  • If you are a DACA student, you can find additional information and advice here

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