On June 29, 2017, the Department of State (DOS) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) both released Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on its websites regarding the implementation of Executive Order 13780. However, both agencies quietly revised the FAQs. Here is what you need to know about the changes and the guidance provided in the FAQs.
Bona Fide Relationship with a Person in the U.S.: DOS has updated what a close familial relationship for the purposes of determining if someone is subject to the E.O. per the Supreme Court decision. Previously, a “close family” relationship only included a parent (including parent-in-law), spouse, child, adult son or daughter, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, and sibling, whether whole or half. This included step relationships. Now, fiancé(e)s qualify as “close family.” Unfortunately, grandparents, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins, brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law, and any other “extended” family members still do not qualify as “close family.” However, the state of Hawaii filed an emergency motion asking a federal judge to clarify the definition of “close family.”
Bona Fide Relationship with an Entity in the U.S.: For purposes of DOS visa adjudications, a relationship with a U.S. entity “must be formal, documented and formed in the ordinary course,” rather than for the purpose of evading the executive order. The DOS provided the following examples of a “bona fide relationship” to a U.S. entity that will qualify:
- An I visa applicant employed by foreign media that has a news office based in the U.S.;
- Students from designated countries who have been admitted to U.S. educational institutions;
- A worker who has accepted an offer of employment from a company in the U.S.; or
- Lecturer invited to address an audience in the U.S.
In contrast, the DOS indicated that the following scenarios will not constitute a bona fide relationship with an entity in the U.S.:
- A nonprofit group who seeks out clients from the designated countries, adds them to their client list, and then claims injury from their inclusion in the EO.
- An individual whose only tie to the United States is a hotel reservation, whether paid or not.
Practical tips to prepare for travel to the U.S. provided by the Southern California Chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers:
If you are a citizen of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, or Yemen, or if you are a refugee entering the U.S., there are some steps you can take that may make your trip easier. Although the situation may change and we cannot provide legal advice, here are some practical tips to know before you go.
- Bring written proof of your connections to the U.S.
- Names, phone numbers, and addresses of relatives in the U.S.
- A letter of acceptance or proof of enrollment at a U.S. university
- An employment contract or pay stub from a U.S. employer
- A letter from a nonprofit organization that you have a formal relationship with.
- Bring written proof of your immigration status. Have your visa or green card ready, along with any related documents.
- Contact an immigration lawyer before traveling and ask for a “G-28” form. This form is proof that you are represented by an immigration lawyer, and you can give it to airport officials if you are being held or questioned and want to speak to a lawyer. Airport officials will sometimes, though not always, allow people to speak with a lawyer who represents them.
- Prepare for your personal items and electronic devices to be searched. Any data stored on a laptop or smartphone could be searched at the airport, so do not travel with any electronic devices with content you want to keep private.