On July 13, 2017, a federal district court judge in Hawaii issued a preliminary injunction restricting the administration from enforcing Section 2 and 6 of Executive Order 13780, more popularly known as the travel ban against certain family members of U.S. persons, throughout the entire nation. Specifically, the order further clarifies the definition of "close familial relationship" to include grandparents, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, and cousins of U.S. persons. As of the time of this post, these individuals who are traveling from one of the 6 banned countries - Iran, Afghanistan, Sudan, Libya, Syria and Somalia - are exempt from the travel ban and may seek a visa abroad so long as they have an approved immigrant or non-immigrant visa petition and there are no other grounds of inadmissibility which would restrict the consulate from issuing their visa. As of July 14, 2017, the administration has stated it will appeal this decision to the Supreme Court of the United States - whether they in fact do this remains to be seen. It is important to note that despite the travel ban and the countless court orders blocking its full enforcement, "extreme vetting" procedures are already in place at consulate abroad for individuals from the travel ban countries. In addition to traditional vetting, consulate officers are seeking 15-years of travel/passport history, the names of all siblings/children (even if they are not traveling with you), the names of any current/former spouses, 15-years of residential history, any e-mail addresses used in the past 5 years, all unique social media handles used in the past 5 years, and 15-years of employment history. Practically speaking, these additional requirements are making it very difficult - if not impossible - for individuals from the travel ban countries to travel to the United States, and further, they have created a deterrent for travel to the United States. While we have seen the courts strike down sections of the travel ban on several occasions, the practical effects of "extreme vetting" are already being seen at consulates abroad. As such, it is important to have a licensed immigration attorney represent you or your family members in all immigration matters so that you can successfully reach your immigration goals.
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