• Ninth Circuit Allows Partial Enforcement of Latest Travel Ban
  • November 28, 2017

  • Executive Summary

    • The Ninth Circuit will allow the Trump administration to temporarily enforce travel restrictions against certain nationals of Chad, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen while the Administration appeals lower court rulings against the restrictions.

    • Nationals of the six countries will be exempt from the restrictions if they have a bona fide relationship with a U.S. person or entity.


    The situation

    The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has issued an order that will allow the Trump Administration to temporarily enforce travel restrictions against certain nationals of Chad, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen, but will exempt travelers with a bona fide relationship to a person or entity in the United States.

    The travel restrictions, which were announced in a September 24, 2017 presidential proclamation, were blocked by two lower courts in October. The Trump Administration appealed those rulings and made an emergency request for temporary permission to enforce the travel restrictions while the appeals were underway. Today’s court order is the result of that request.

    The travel restrictions

    The Administration is soon expected to announce when it will begin to impose the travel restrictions pursuant to the Ninth Circuit order. When implemented, nationals of the six countries are expected to be subject to the following U.S. travel limitations, unless otherwise exempt:

    • Chad: No B-1, B-2 or B-1/B-2 visitor visas; no immigrant or diversity lottery visas.

    • Iran: No nonimmigrant visas except F and M student visas and J exchange visitor visas; no immigrant or diversity lottery visas.

    • Libya: No B-1, B-2 or B-1/B-2 visitor visas; no immigrant or diversity lottery visas.

    • Somalia: Nonimmigrant visa applicants subject to heightened scrutiny; no immigrant or diversity visas.

    • Syria: No nonimmigrant, immigrant or diversity lottery visas.

    • Yemen: No B-1, B-2 or B-1/B-2 visitor visas; no immigrant or diversity lottery visas.

    Travel restrictions against North Koreans and certain Venezuelan government officials were not affected by the rulings and remain in place.

    Exemptions for certain travelers

    The Ninth Circuit’s order prohibits the Administration from enforcing restrictions against travelers who have a bona fide relationship with:

    • A close family member in the United States, which includes immediate family as well as grandparents, grandchildren, brothers/sisters-in law, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, and cousins; or

    • A U.S. entity, such as a sponsoring employer, where the relationship is documented, formal, and not formed for the purposes of evading the ban.

    In addition, U.S. lawful permanent residents, dual nationals, holders of valid visas and certain other classes of foreign national are exempt from the travel limits by the terms of the original presidential proclamation.

    Looking ahead

    Fragomen is closely following the implementation of the court order and will issue additional client alerts when the Administration puts the restrictions in place.

    In early December, the Fourth and Ninth Circuits will hear oral arguments in challenges to the travel restrictions.