The Latest Turn in the Travel Ban Road
A few weeks ago, we wrote about the latest district court decisions involving the President’s so-called travel ban, in which a Hawaii court fully enjoined the proclamation, while a Maryland court allowed it to stand as to travelers without bona fide ties to the U.S. The Hawaii court’s order meant that Travel Ban 3.0 was put on hold.
The New Ruling
On November 13, a panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals partially and temporarily overturned the Hawaii court’s ruling. It granted a partial stay, agreeing with the Maryland court that, for now at least, the ban can go into effect as to travelers from Chad, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen without bona fide connections to the U.S.
What It Means
The new ruling applies the bona fide test articulated by the Supreme Court last summer. It means that travelers from the six countries who have a “close familial relationship” with a person in the U.S. may travel here. Such a relationship includes grandparents, grandchildren, brothers- and sisters-in-law, aunts and uncles, nieces and nephews, and cousins. The ruling also permits those who have a relationship with an entity in the U.S. that is formal, documented and formed in the ordinary course of business to travel here. This includes students and individuals with valid job offers, but not tourists or patients seeking medical care.
As a practical matter, a large number – likely most – visa applicants from these countries will still qualify to come to the U.S., as they will have bona fide ties here. However, it bears recalling that the government still retains the authority to reject visas or entry on a case-by-case basis and anecdotal data indicate that more such rejections have taken place in the past year than in prior years.
As noted last month, we are nowhere near the end of this legal odyssey. The Fourth Circuit has yet to review the Maryland court’s order, and the Ninth Circuit’s new ruling is only a temporary stay, pending a more considered decision down the road. Oral arguments in the Ninth Circuit are scheduled for December 6, and in the Fourth Circuit on December 8. And virtually everyone expects this case to end up back in the Supreme Court sometime in the next year. So, there are more twists and turns in the road ahead. Stay tuned.