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District court rules on travel ban definitions

The controversial travel ban imposed by the White House has seen a number of adjustments since it was first proposed earlier this year. Indeed, legal challenges have softened its initial approach and intent and the number of demonstrations and protests have certainly garnered media attention. But for foreign nationals who seek to enter the country, it is important to know how the definitions included in the directive should be interpreted.  

This post will highlight the latest developments on the travel ban. 

According to a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision, a scaled-back version of the ban was allowed to proceed, where a visa applicant from one of the named countries could be exempt if he or she proved a “bona fide relationship” with a U.S. citizen, government agency, business or educational institution.

The White House previously defined “bona fide” for family visa applicants as having a established relationship with a parent, spouse, fiancé, son or daughter, sibling or son-in-law or daughter-in-law who was already in the U.S. However, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit recently ordered a case involving a challenge to this definition back to district court with instructions that district court judges may interpret the Supreme Court’s order.

This led the U.S. District Court in Hawaii to issue an order expanding the interpretation to include those applicants who have grandparents in the United States. This ostensibly means that those with adult grandchildren will also be exempt from the ban.

While this ruling affects visa applications for those who are travelling to Hawaii, it remains to be seen whether district courts in Kentucky and Ohio will take the same position. If you have questions about visa applications, an experienced immigration attorney can help. 

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