On Monday June 27th, the US Supreme Court overturned the rulings from lower federal courts that declared President Trump’s ‘immigration ban’ as invalid. Instead, the US Supreme Court ruled that some parts of the executive order can be implemented, while reserving a full review for its regular session in October.
The New, Revised Travel Ban and “Bona Fide Relationships” for Entry
The primary question on the minds of H1B visa holders and applicants is whether the ban will affect their application or immigration status. This remains a grey area, and one left up to the discretion of immigration authorities to interpret the court ruling.
Here is what the revised ban looks like:
- Citizens of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen can now be banned from entering the US for the next 90 days.
- All refugees from any country can be banned for the next 120 days.
- The ban can only be applied to those who do not already possess a valid visa of any type.
- Also, the ruling from the Supreme Court set new criteria for banning entry: That the individual does not have a “bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the US.”
This new criteria of ‘bona fide relationship’ is the one that is posing some problems of interpretation, since the court did not offer much guidance to determine what that is.
The court did say that people “coming to live with or visit a family member” should be allowed to enter the US. Apparently, those who are entering on a valid student visa and those with valid work visas should not have a problem, but there may be uneven application of the travel ban, for those either transferring to a new sponsor or submitting new petitions.
The H1B Visa Impact: US Consulates Making the Determination
Non-immigrant workers already in the US on an H1B visa should not be affected by this ruling, since working for a US employer is a bona fide relationship. The less clear impact is for those currently with petitions under review, who may encounter some issues at the US consulate in their own country.
Some potential outcomes to expect:
- Depending on your country, there may be additional requests for information on background, education and work experience.
- The consulate officer may go to greater lengths to establish your relationship to your proposed sponsor, the application process and your knowledge of their business and the positions offered.
- If you cannot demonstrate a relationship to a US business, then your petition could be denied. This could affect those still seeking an H1B visa through an outsourcing company or third party.
- Even if your visa is approved, you could expect a higher degree of scrutiny at the border airport of arrival, to double check the details on your visa and background.
In General, the Long-Term Effect on H1B Visa Workers Should be Limited
The initial travel ban in January had an immediate impact on H1B visa holders outside the country for work or vacation, but now if there visa is valid they can re-enter under the court’s ruling. Visa applicants from the listed countries may encounter more questions or delays in the US consulates, but given that the ban is only 90 days it should not be a long-term problem.
If you have questions about your visa petition, US sponsors and how it may be affected by this new development, please contact us.
- July 1st, 2017