Travel ban establishes new rules for visa applicants

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Now that the Supreme Court has partially restored President Trump’s executive order, the administration has established new rules for visa applicants coming to the U.S. from those six countries that have been flagged as sponsors of terrorism.

Effective at 8 p.m. EDT on Thursday, all new applicants who want to come to the United States from Syria, Sudan, Somalia, Libya, Iran and Yemen must prove that they have a relationship with a parent, spouse, child, adult son or daughter, son-in-law, daughter-in-law or sibling already living in the U.S. to be eligible.

Previously approved visas will not be revoked, but according to the State Department in a directive which was issued to all U.S. embassies, most would-be refugees from all nations will have to follow the same guidelines.

Extended family members, such as grandparents, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins, brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law, fiancees or other will not qualify as “close relationships.”

According to the State Department, a legitimate business relationship must be “formal, documented and formed in the ordinary course rather than for the purpose of evading” the ban.

Those exempt from the ban include journalists, students, workers or lecturers who have valid invitations or employment contracts in the U.S. The exemption does not apply to those who seek a relationship with an American business or educational institution purely for the purpose of avoiding the rules.

The guidelines further state that other exemptions would include “previously established significant contacts with the United States” such as an infant, adopted child or someone in need of urgent medical care, or  someone with “significant business or professional obligations” in the U.S., such as traveling for business with a recognized international organization or a legal resident of Canada who applies for a visa in Canada.

“Initial reports suggest that the government may try to unilaterally expand the scope of the ban – for example, by arbitrarily refusing to treat certain categories of familial relationships as `bona fide.’ These reports are deeply concerning. We are watching for official word,” said Omar Jadwat, director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights.

The new rules will remain in place until the Supreme Court issues a final ruling on the matter, which won’t happen until October at the earliest.

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