In agreeing to review two rulings by the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals and 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on President’s Trump’s March 6, 2017, Executive Order, the Supreme Court reinstated certain provisions of the Executive Order that the lower courts had blocked. The March 6th Executive Order entitled “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States” was to suspend visa issuance for individuals from six countries, including Libya, Iran, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen for 90 days. This provision, often referred to as the “travel ban,” effectively prohibits travel to the United States for individuals from the six affected countries.

In its June 26th ruling, the Supreme Court partially lifted the injunctions issued by the lower courts. In doing so, the Supreme Court clarified that the travel ban may not be enforced against individuals from the six affected countries “who have a credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States.” To establish a bona fide relationship with a “person,” a familial relationship is required. For entities, the relationship must be documented and formal and must not have been formed for the purpose of evading the restrictions of the Executive Order. The Supreme Court pointed out that students who have been admitted to a college or university may be able to show a bona fide relationship with an entity in the United States. Similarly, foreign national faculty and staff who have accepted a job at a U.S. college or university may be able to demonstrate the requisite relationship. However, students who have not yet been admitted and faculty and staff who have not yet accepted a job offer may have difficult time proving a bona fide relationship with an entity in the United States. Students, faculty, and staff from the six affected countries who can establish the requisite relationship should expect long delays and extensive questioning upon entry, and the lack of precision in identifying those who will qualify for admission may result in confusion in some cases.

The travel ban does not affect lawful permanent residents, individuals who are admitted to the United States on or after the effective date of the Executive Order, dual nationals who travel on a passport from a country other than the six affected countries, foreign nationals traveling on diplomatic visas, and individuals granted asylum or refugee status in the United States before the effective date.

The travel ban will take effect on June 29, 2017. Foreign national students, faculty, and staff from the six affected countries who are already in the United States should contact immigration counsel prior to traveling outside of the United States.