Students and Scholars –
On June 26, 2017, the U.S. Supreme Court (the Court) issued an opinion which allowed part of Executive Order 13780 (the revised “travel ban”) to go into effect on Thursday, June 29.
The Court’s decision limited the impact of the ban, which attempts to bar visa issuance and entry to the United States for foreign nationals from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. In its decision, anyone who has a “bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States” is exempted. As long as an individual from those six countries can prove a “bona fide relationship” with a person or entity that is “formal, documented, and formed in the ordinary course” [rather than a relationship being formed specifically for the purpose of qualifying for this exemption], the ban will not apply to them.
In its ruling, the Court specifically stated that students from the designated countries who have been admitted to a University are considered to have this ‘bona fide relationship’ with an American entity. So too would a worker who accepted an offer of employment from an American company (for those of you on J-1 Research Scholar status, Post-Completion OPT, or who are pending a change of status to H-1B).
Remember that even prior to this court decision, a national of one of the six restricted countries was already exempt from the travel ban (per the express terms of the March 6 Executive Order) if he/she falls into one of the following categories:
- U.S. lawful permanent resident (green card holder);
- Dual national traveling on a passport from a non-restricted country; (Canadian permanent residents are not exempt);
- Possesses a valid, multiple-entry U.S. visa and is otherwise admissible to the United States;
- Applicant for adjustment of status with valid advance parole;
- Granted asylum in the United States; or
- Admitted as a refugee or is a refugee whose travel was already formally scheduled by the U.S. State Department.
How this Supreme Court Opinion Impacts NC State:
- There is no change on travel guidance to our international campus community. Due to the continuing uncertainty regarding the travel ban and how these ‘bona fide relationships’ will be reviewed (The Court will hear oral arguments on the full Executive Order in October 2017) we still recommend that impacted individuals refrain from travel if at all possible.
- Individuals from any of the six countries who are currently outside the U.S. and need a visa to enter should still be granted a visa and admitted, with clear evidence of a bona fide relationship. According to the Court, examples of a bona fide relationship include:
- Close familial relationships (DHS and DOS have issued FAQs on the definition of a close familial relationship. The state of Hawaii already challenged this definition in District Court, so this may change);
- Students at U.S. universities or individuals who have already been admitted or are attending a U.S. university;
- Employees of U.S. entities or individuals that have already accepted employment or are working with a U.S. entity; or
- Foreign nationals invited to lecture to an American audience
- The Department of State has issued an FAQ regarding implementation of the Executive Order.
- The Department of Homeland Security (which governs Customs and Border Protection) has also issued an FAQ regarding implementation.
- All international travelers should continue to expect delays during visa appointments and at ports of entry. Consular officers abroad and CBP at all ports of entry will now have to accommodate the Court’s ruling and agency protocol and make additional decisions regarding who to admit into the U.S., which will undoubtedly cause additional delays.
- As always, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will continue to determine, on a case-by-case basis, whether the individual is admissible to the U.S. It’s possible CBP will decide to re-review the bona fide relationship to the U.S., even if the person already met this burden and obtained an entry visa at a U.S. consulate or embassy overseas. If travel is necessary, we strongly recommend that individuals from any of the six countries carry extensive documentation showing their bona fide ties to the United States. Please work closely with OIS if you must travel to prepare this documentation.
- The executive order also authorizes the DHS and DOS to grant discretionary waivers of the entry ban where the denial of entry would cause hardship or the foreign national’s entry is in the national interest and entry would not pose a threat to national security. However, the stringent criteria and lack of a clear application process suggest that waivers may be difficult to obtain.
If you decide to travel, please make an appointment with an advisor at OIS so that we can advise you on what documentation to travel with and what to do should you encounter difficulty in getting a visa in time to return for classes or if you encounter difficulty at the Port of Entry.
The Office of International Services, International Employment, and the Office of General Counsel are closely monitoring the government’s implementation of the Supreme Court decision and the executive order, and will provide further information as developments occur.