Travel Restrictions Partially Reinstated by Supreme Court Decision (06/29/17)

Update!  On June 26, the U.S. Supreme Court lifted the injunction on the March 6 executive order, allowing for the reinstatement of travel restrictions, with certain limits. The Court’s decision specified that travelers from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, or Yemen intending to enter the United States with a “bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States” cannot be barred from entry. Further Court action will follow with arguments set to be heard in October 2017.

As of June 29, 2017, at 8:00 pm Eastern Daylight Time, the Department of State began implementing the Executive Order at embassies and consulates abroad. The Department of Homeland Security’s public statement on the decision said the agency plans to carry out the executive order “professionally, with clear and sufficient public notice, particularly to potentially affected travelers.” As articulated in the Court’s decision, individuals accepting a job offer from an American company may be considered to have a “bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States” and, thus, not be subject to the travel restrictions.

A Department of State announcement spells out immediate plans for implementation. The accompanying FAQ includes the following section, which specifies that nonimmigrant visas, such as the O and P visas used by artists, are inherently exempt from the restrictions of the Executive Order:

What nonimmigrant visa classes are exempted from the Executive Order, based on the Supreme Court’s order?

The Supreme Court’s order specified that the suspension of entry in section 2(c) of Executive Order 13780 (E.O.) may not be enforced against foreign nationals who have a credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States. Applicants seeking B, C-1, C-3, D, or I visas will need to make a credible claim to a consular officer at their visa interview that they have a bona fide close familial relationship with a person in the United States or of a bona fide, formal, documented relationship with an entity in the United States that was formed in the ordinary course, rather than for the purpose of evading the E.O., for the visa applicant to be exempt from the E.O. based on the Supreme Court order. Alternatively, some applicants may qualify for an exemption, and others may qualify for a waiver, in accordance with the E.O. itself. Qualified applicants in nonimmigrant visa categories not listed above are considered exempt from the E.O., because a credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States is inherent in the requirements for the visa classification. In all visa adjudications, consular officers may seek additional information, as warranted, to ensure underlying relationships are bona fide, rather than being established for the purpose of unlawfully obtaining a visa, including by evading the E.O.

Travel to the U.S. may be permitted on O and P visas under these rules. Please remember that the final decision for visa approval rests with the consular officials. The FAQ states the following:

An individual who wishes to apply for a nonimmigrant visa should apply for a visa and disclose during the visa interview any information that might demonstrate that he or she is exempt from section 2(c) of the Executive Order.  A consular officer will carefully review each case to determine whether the applicant is affected by the E.O. and, if so, whether the case qualifies for a waiver.    

The Department of Homeland Security has also posted an FAQ related to Executive Order implementation, though it includes less detail related to nonimmigrant work visas than the Department of State version referenced above.

This page will be updated with additional information for artists as further details regarding implementation are available. In the meantime, background on the executive order and subsequent court action is available here.