The Supreme Court Partially Allowed Trump’s Travel Ban. Who Is Still Barred?

In Nation
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Portions of President Trump’s travel ban will go into effect on Thursday, three days after the Supreme Court temporarily lifted legal blocks on the ban and this fall.

The court granted an exception for people with “bona fide relationships” in the United States, and advocates and experts expressed uncertainty about how the Trump administration would implement the decision.

People With ‘Bona Fide’
Relationships in the U.S.

The Supreme Court lifted the suspensions that federal judges had in March, but only partially: People from the affected countries who have “a credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States” will still be allowed to enter the country.

The justices said their intention was to not burden American parties who have relationships with foreigners. They offered some examples of who would be allowed, including close family members, students and workers offered employment.

But there is uncertainty over how the bona fide relationship exception will be implemented. Officials at the Department of Homeland Security said in a statement that they could now “largely implement the president’s executive order.” But legal experts say the court’s decision means the president’s order will apply only to a narrow group of people who don’t have qualifying relationships.

Everyone Else From Six Countries

The president’s order prohibits for 90 days the entry of travelers from six predominantly Muslim countries: Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. The court’s action means that this ban will only apply to those without bona fide relationships in the United States.

Meanwhile, American officials will conduct a review into screening procedures in place to prevent threats. Travelers from countries that do not provide sufficient information for screening by the end of the review may still be barred from entering the United States.

In its opinion, the court said the administration could complete its review over the summer, so it is possible that the case could become moot by the time it is argued in the fall.

Students, Workers and Family Members Without Current Visas

Mr. Trump’s order applies to people who do not have current visas, like temporary, non-immigrant visas for students and workers. But these groups already get those visas based on relationships with family members or businesses, which the Supreme Court described as bona fide, so it is likely that they will be allowed in.

There were nearly 20,000 temporary visits by citizens from the six targeted countries in the 2015 fiscal year in these categories:

Business travelers

5,643 entries in 2015

People visiting the United States for business purposes on non-immigrant travel visas like the B-1.


12,205 entries in 2015

International students (and their families) enrolled in American programs on non-immigrant visas like the F-1, J-1 and M-1.

Temporary workers

883 entries in 2015

Employees (and their families) on non-immigrant work visas like H-1B for specialty workers and H-2B for agricultural workers.

Fiancés of U.S. citizens

669 entries in 2015

Temporary visas for fiancés of American citizens and for spouses and children of American citizens or green card holders who have pending immigrant visas.


Like students and workers, most visitors coming to the United States for recreational purposes must obtain non-immigrant visas. Those from the six countries will be allowed only if they already have family or another qualifying bona fide relationship in the United States.

There were 43,769 visits by citizens from the six targeted countries on the B-2 travel visa in 2015.

New Immigrants

Mr. Trump’s order also applies to people from the six countries newly arriving on immigrant visas. But most of these visas are granted based on employment or family status, relationships that would likely qualify them to enter under the court’s opinion.

A small percentage of new immigrants are awarded “diversity visas” through a lottery, so it is possible that they would not have bona fide relationships that would allow them to enter.

People issued immigrant visas become legal permanent residents on arrival in the United States and are issued a green card soon after. In 2015, green cards were issued to 31,258 people from these six countries. In general, about half of recent new legal permanent residents have been new arrivals to the country, and the other half have had their status adjusted after living in the United States.


The president’s order also includes a ban on all refugees to the United States for 120 days. After that, the administration will determine from which countries it will reinstate admissions.

Mr. Trump’s order allows case-by-case exceptions for some refugees, and refugees already granted asylum will be allowed. The court’s exception for those with a bona fide relationship also applies to refugees, but independent estimates, about 40 percent of refugees who come to the country have no family ties here.

Some that refugees’ ties to a nonprofit organization that helps them resettle qualifies as a bona fide relationship. In its decision, the Supreme Court said relationships would not be bona fide if they were formed for the purpose of bypassing the president’s order, but it is unclear how the Trump administration will apply the decision to refugees.

The president’s order in half, capping it at 50,000 people for the 2017 fiscal year, down from the 110,000 ceiling put in place under President Barack Obama. But the cap will not apply to refugees who can claim a bona fide relationship.

Green Card Holders, Dual Nationals and Diplomats

Mr. Trump’s order explicitly says green card holders from the targeted countries will be allowed. From 1999 to 2015, 2.6 percent of new legal permanent residents were from the six affected countries.

The president’s order also does not apply to American citizens, or to dual nationals who enter the United States presenting their passport from a country not under the ban.

People on certain types of diplomatic or government visas are also still allowed. Nearly 1,500 admissions from the six countries were made on these visas in 2015:


Diplomats (and their families) on visas like the A-1

Government officials

Representatives of foreign governments or international organizations holding G-1, G-2, G-3 or G-4 visas

Visitors to the United Nations

People with C-2 visas to travel to the United Nations

NATO officials

Officials (and their families) on North Atlantic Treaty Organization visas

How the Ban Has Evolved

After a panel of federal judges of a January order banning travel from seven predominantly Muslim countries, Mr. Trump issued a narrower in March, which, among other changes, removed Iraq from the list of barred countries and took out language prioritizing refugees in minority religious groups.

Federal judges in mid-March, and it had been on hold until Monday, when the Supreme Court and allowed portions of it to go back into effect.

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