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Supreme Court allows travel ban

The US Supreme Court partially lifted preliminary injunctions that had blocked President Trump’s revised executive order suspending US entry by foreign nationals from six, rather than the previous seven, mostly Muslim countries. However, the Court carved out an exception for foreign nationals who have a “bona fide relationship” with a person or entity in the United States,” raising such questions as “What is a bona fide relationship?” and “What is an entity in the US?” that will likely be the subject of further court action.

Supreme Court allows travel ban

The US Supreme Court partially lifted preliminary injunctions that had blocked Executive Order No. 13780, signed by President Donald J. Trump in March 2017 (EO-2), banning travel to the US for citizens of six countries. The Supreme Court scheduled a full hearing of the case for October 2017.

“Bona fide relationship” exception

The Supreme Court found that the preliminary injunction shall remain in place and the travel ban will not impact foreign nationals who have a “bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States.” Further, refugees will continue to be allowed to enter the US, subject to the 50,000 person cap on refugee admissions, except that the cap cannot be used as a means to bar an individual with a bona fide relationship with the US.

The Supreme Court defined “bona fide relationship” as either (with respect to individuals) “a close familial relationship” or (with respect to entities), a relationship that is “formal, documented, and formed in the ordinary course.” What constitutes a sufficiently close familial relationship is likely to be the subject of further court action.

As for what constitutes a sufficiently established relationship with an entity, the Supreme Court provided three examples:

  • Students admitted to attend university in the US
  • Workers who have accepted an offer of employment from a US company
  • Lecturers invited to the US for a speaking engagement

The travel ban will apply to individuals whose relationship with an entity was formed to purposefully circumvent the ban.

It is worth noting that EO-2 in its original form applies only to the new issuance of visas, and not the US entry of individuals who have already been issued visas, green cards or asylum/refugee status.

Also, there is a chance that the Supreme Court will not have to hear the case in its entirety in October. If EO-2 goes into effect as scheduled by the Trump administration, the 90 day temporary ban will conclude at the end of September, several days before the Supreme Court begins its term. This would, then, remove any controversy over the legality of that piece of the order.

Citizens from these countries impacted

Citizens from the following countries are detrimentally impacted:

  • Iran
  • Libya
  • Somalia
  • Sudan
  • Syria
  • Yemen

EO-2 does not apply to citizens of other countries who merely visited the listed countries. Further, it does not apply to citizens of these six countries who are dual citizens and use the passport of a non-affected country to apply for a visa and enter the US.

When does the ban start?

In a June 14 memorandum, President Trump directed the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Department of State and other relevant agencies to wait 72 hours from the release of the Supreme Court decision before banning refugees and travelers from the six affected countries to “ensure an orderly and proper implementation” of the changes.

Background

During his first six months in office, President Trump signed two travel ban executive orders. The first, Executive Order 13797 (EO-1), issued on January 27, 2017, took a number of steps, including:

  • Suspending for 90 days the entry of foreign nationals from seven mostly Muslim countries identified as presenting heightened concerns about terrorism and travel in the US [1]
  • Suspending for 120 days the United States Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP), during which an adequacy review is to be undertaken
  • Reducing to 50,000 per year the total number of refugees that could be admitted to the United States, starting in fiscal year 2017
  • Suspending indefinitely admission of refugees from Syria

EO-1 was quickly blocked  by the US District Court for the Western District of Washington, which issued a nationwide temporary restraining order. The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit denied an emergency motion by the US government to stay the district court order pending appeal. In response, the government rescinded EO-1 and went back to the drawing board.

On March 6, 2017, President Trump signed EO-2, which closely mirrored the directives in EO-1, but was intended to correct some its perceived errors, including:

  • Reducing the reach of the 90-day temporary suspension of entry to foreign nationals from six (rather than seven) mostly Muslim countries, with Iraq no longer included [2] and with a case-by-case waiver of the entry bar.
  • Directing the Secretary of DHS to undertake a 20-day global review of whether foreign governments provide sufficient information about nationals applying for visas.

EO-2 was immediately challenged in court, which challenges led to prompt nationwide preliminary injunctions by the US District Court for the District of Maryland and (as stated above) the Western District of Washington, which were then appealed to the US Courts of Appeal for the Fourth and Ninth Circuits, respectively.

The Fourth Circuit concluded that the EO-2 ban on entry from the six named countries was primarily motivated by religious considerations and, as such, violated the First Amendment. In that case, the preliminary injunction only applied to the suspension of entry of foreign nationals from particular countries. The 120-day ban on USRAP and the quota on total refugee immigration would still be in force.

The Ninth Circuit, meanwhile, found that EO-2 exceeded the president’s authority under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) and, on that basis, upheld the injunction with regard to the entirety of EO-2.

The federal government appealed both decision to the Supreme Court, certiorari was granted, and the two cases were consolidated and oral argument scheduled for October Term 2017. The Supreme Court, meanwhile, heard the government’s application to stay the aforementioned injunctions.

Dentons will continue to issue further information as it becomes available.

[1] Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen

[2] Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen

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Supreme Court allows travel ban

Form EEA – permanent residence applications

Applicants use Form EEA (PR) to apply for, replace or renew a document certifying permanent residence or a permanent residence card.

On April 12, 2017, the Home Office updated its guidance notes detailing what an applicant should send with his or her application. See here for full details. The guidance notes now include a table of examples of people in different circumstances. This acts as a helpful guide for applicants thinking about the evidence they might need to provide specific to their own circumstances.

The documents and evidence sent must be originals. The Home Office makes an exception for online applicants who have their passports verified, copied and sent to the Home Office by a local authority participating in the European Passport Return Service. All documents not in English or Welsh must be accompanied by an official English translation provided by a qualified translator.

Dentons will issue further information as it becomes available.

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Form EEA – permanent residence applications

Travel ban executive order – the saga continues

The US Departments of State and Homeland Security both issued statements on February 6, 2017, confirming that the government has suspended the implementation of key provisions of President Trump’s travel ban on nationals from seven Muslim-majority countries, and that visas that had been provisionally revoked are now valid for travel and may be used, once again, to come to the US, subject to the normal laws and procedures that existed prior to the President Trump’s executive order dated January 27, 2017.

This action comes as a result of a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision in State of Washington and State of Minnesota v. Trump, denying a US Department of Justice request for an immediate stay of a nationwide injunction granted by a US federal district court judge in Seattle in response to Washington State’s request for a temporary restraining order immediately halting implementation and enforcement of the immigration ban.

The EO initially barred the entry to the United States of lawful permanent residents with green cards, and imposes a 90-day suspension of admission for immigrant and nonimmigrant visa holders, and refugees and passport holders from the seven countries. Soon thereafter, the Department of State issued an urgent notice suspending visa issuance to citizens of those countries. The EO also suspended the resettlement of refugees from all countries to the US for 120 days, and bans Syrian refugees indefinitely.

Previous injunctions had been issued in federal courts in Massachusetts and New York. Those orders temporarily enjoined federal agencies from removing people with approved refugee applications, valid visas and the nationals from the seven Muslim countries. The Seattle court’s decision is the broadest and has the largest impact.

Citizens from these countries are impacted

Nationals from the following countries are detrimentally impacted:

  • Iran
  • Iraq
  • Libya
  • Somalia
  • Sudan
  • Syria
  • Yemen

The EO does not apply to citizens of other countries who merely visited the listed countries. Further, the US Customs and Border Protection Agency has stated that the EO does not apply to citizens of these seven countries, if they are dual citizens and use the passport of a non-affected country to enter the US.

Travel guidance

Nationals from the seven listed countries, including dual citizens traveling with the passport of another country and US permanent residents, may wish to delay travel to the US until the details of the implementation of the EO are more clear, even if they already hold a visa to enter the United States. If in the United States already, they may wish to defer departure as they may not be allowed to return or they may find themselves going through a more lengthy than usual secondary inspection on arrival in the US. There are also reports of airline personnel being understandably confused regarding the status of the EO, with resulting inconvenience to travelers.

Background

On February 4, President Trump tweeted the following about the Hon. James L. Robart, the district court judge who issued the nationwide order. “The opinion of this so-called judge, which essentially takes law-enforcement away from our country, is ridiculous and will be overturned!”

Criticism of the tweet and the EO was immediate and widespread. Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) said, “The President’s hostility toward the rule of law is not just embarrassing, it is dangerous. He seems intent on precipitating a constitutional crisis.” Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said: “We fear this executive order will become a self-inflicted wound in the fight against terrorism.”

Broad media coverage of the confusion caused by the uncertainty surrounding the EO’s fate continues. Dentons continues to receive emails and calls from employers who are considering cancelling all travel for employees carrying passports from the impacted countries, including dual citizens and US lawful permanent residents. Similar concerns have been voiced by citizens of many countries that are not listed in the EO but are worried that their country might be next. Due to the reciprocal nature of diplomatic relations, it is likely that US passport holders traveling to the seven countries will experience similar difficulties upon their arrival. Iran, for its part, has said, it would stop US citizens entering the country in retaliation to Washington’s visa ban.

Dentons will issue further information as it becomes available.

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Travel ban executive order – the saga continues

Entry to the United States barred for certain passport holders?!

US President Donald Trump issued an executive order delaying the entry to the United States of lawful permanent residents with green cards, immigrant and nonimmigrant visa holders, refugees and passport holders from seven countries. The order, dated January 27, 2017, became effective immediately. Soon thereafter, the US Department of State issued an urgent notice suspending visa issuance to citizens of those countries.

On January 28, 2017, injunctions were issued in federal courts in Massachusetts and New York. The orders enjoin federal agencies from removing people with approved refugee applications, valid visas and others from the seven countries.

How the government is reacting

In a January 29, 2017, press release, the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) stated that it will continue to enforce all of President Trump’s executive orders. Later that same day, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) agency, which is part of DHS, issued a statement deeming the entry of lawful permanent residents to be in the national interest. The result is to allow lawful permanent residents to return to their homes in the US, absent significant derogatory information indicating a serious threat to public safety and welfare.

Citizens from these countries are impacted

Nationals from the following seven countries are detrimentally impacted:

  • Iran
  • Iraq
  • Libya
  • Somalia
  • Sudan
  • Syria
  • Yemen

The order does not apply to citizens of other countries who merely visited the listed countries.

Travel Guidance

Nationals from the seven listed countries, including dual citizens traveling with the passport of another country, may wish to delay travel to the United States until the details of the implementation of the executive order is more clear even if they already hold a visa to enter the United States. If in the United States already, they may wish to defer departure.

Background

The executive order is reported to have been issued without advance consultation with the agencies charged with its implementation, including DHS and the Department of State.

President Trump stated on January 28 that the travel ban is “working out very nicely.”

That said, there is broad media coverage of the widespread confusion that resulted, not only in the general public, but also at airports, airlines, border crossings, etc. There are reports of detentions of new arrivals at airports and public protest in many American cities. I have had a number of emails and calls from client employers canceling travel for employees carrying passports from the impacted countries, including dual citizens and United States lawful permanent residents. Due to the reciprocal nature of diplomatic relations, it is likely that US passport holders traveling to these seven countries will experience similar difficulties.

The situation remains very fluid. Press Secretary Reince Priebus stated on January 29, 2017, that the executive order will no longer apply to lawful permanent residents, and the USCIS issued its confirming statement mentioned above.

Dentons will issue further information as it becomes available.

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Entry to the United States barred for certain passport holders?!

Update on EEA applications for UK permanent residence

Due to continuing uncertainty following the Brexit vote, EEA nationals who qualify are acting now to secure their right to stay in the UK.

No doubt to help with the influx of permanent residence applications received from EEA nationals, the Home Office is making changes to its application procedures. Starting October 1, 2016, European passports filed with applications on forms EEA(QP) or EEA(PR) can take advantage of a “return service.”

This means that a local authority, such as a county council or city council, can, for a fee, photocopy the passport and forward a copy, with the checklist and application, to the Home Office. This will enable the applicant to keep his or her passport while the Home Office is processing the application. If the application is caught up in a backlog, at least the EEA national retains the original passport.

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Update on EEA applications for UK permanent residence

Dual nationality may be an option for Brits who live or work in the EU

EU passport GBThe German vice chancellor has called on certain EU countries (including Italy and France) to offer young British citizens who live or work in those countries the opportunity to apply for dual nationality. This follows the speculation and confusion after the UK referendum to leave the European Union. This would allow those British citizens a chance to remain EU citizens.

Some countries (EU and otherwise) permit dual nationality, sometimes under limited circumstances, while others do not. France allows naturalization without renouncing foreign citizenship, as does Italy. The UK, US and Germany, on the other hand, generally does not and only fairly recent created an exception that requires German citizens to apply for a waiver before naturalizing in another country.

Recent opinion polls showed that more than 70 percent of UK young citizens voted to remain in the EU and there is increasing concern from UK citizens about their long-term status in other EU countries. Many fear the UK’s exit from the EU will remove the existing free movement of people, or make this ability limited with excessively burdensome and restrictive procedures. Therefore, it is likely that many Britons will want to explore this alternative and hold on to the opportunity to live and work in the other 27 countries that form the EU.

Residents of Germany can apply for citizenship after eights years on the condition that they pass a German language skills test and a naturalization assessment (among other things). Further, German law requires non-EU citizens to give up their existing nationality when applying for German citizenship. However, the German ministry has suggested that it would like to allow British individuals to hold on to their UK citizenship even if they apply for naturalization after the UK subsequently leaves the EU.

For all of the positive aspects of dual nationality giving the right to live and work in an EU country, it is worth pointing out that there are obligations that may accompany taking on another country’s citizenship. Some EU countries have mandatory military service that would probably be more likely to impact the “young” Brits. And while tangential to the topic of dual citizenship, it should be noted that many EU countries have exit taxes on unrealized capital gains that might be imposed if an individual changes their residence for tax purposes or moves taxable assets from one country to another.

For now, while leaders negotiate the exit strategy, the UK remains part of the EU and British citizens still have full rights to work or study in other EU countries. Only time will tell whether they will continue to have this opportunity in the post-Brexit world.

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Dual nationality may be an option for Brits who live or work in the EU

Free movement a thing of the past?

passport home office 2

The “Brexit” debate will be on the minds of EEA nationals who have moved to the UK for work. Those who have been here for some time will be concerned that they could lose their right to remain in the UK. A change in the regulations governing the rights of European nationals is fueling this concern. In November 2015, European nationals lost the automatic acquisition of permanent residence after five years exercising treaty rights in the UK.

Now a European national must make an application for confirmation of permanent residence if he or she wishes 12 months later to apply for naturalization as a British citizen. This means the national will have to make two applications and wait 12 months between each application.

Although this extra burden could be unfavourable to any Europeans wanting a British passport, the likelihood is that protecting the Europeans who are in the UK will form part of the negotiations of any Brexit. Similarly, thought will need to be given during negotiations to those British nationals who are living in other European countries.

Since there is some ambiguity, we recommend that European nationals act now to secure confirmation of their status.

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Free movement a thing of the past?

New year, no passport—New provisions in Highway Bill revoke US passports for unpaid taxes

no passport

Buried in the 1,300 pages of last Friday’s new five-year, $305 billion Highway Bill is a provision that will affect more than transportation or infrastructure—a tax provision would allow the State Department to revoke or deny passports and international travel for tax debts of $50,000 or more where there is non-payment. Those affected will need to litigate in the Tax Court or District Court to get their privilege back. There is the potential for this to be fraught with problems—for example, in cases were federal tax liens are erroneously issued and the like. For the millions of US citizens living abroad, this could potentially restrict their freedom of movement (to say nothing of putting a crimp in their holiday travel plans).

New year, no passport—New provisions in Highway Bill revoke US passports for unpaid taxes

Canadian government removes visa requirements for Chilean nationals

On November 22, 2014, the Canadian government announced the removal of the requirement for Chilean nationals to obtain temporary resident visas to travel to Canada. As such, Chileans may now travel on valid passports to Canada for business and pleasure travel without the requirement of first applying for a travel visa to enter Canada. Coupled with the Canada –Chile Free Trade Agreement and the fact that Chilean nationals do not require medicals, Chilean nationals will be eligible to apply for work permits at the port of entry, including Chilean Professionals as outlined in the Canada-Chile FTA: http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/resources/tools/temp/work/international/chile.asp

This announcement is a welcomed development for employers seeking skilled workers to Canada and promoting greater global mobility.

Canadian government removes visa requirements for Chilean nationals

US State Department visa and passport processing almost back to normal

keep calm visas

The US State Department announced on August 4 that most of the worldwide backlog of nonimmigrant visa cases have been resolved.  The Department continues to prioritize immigration cases and are printing visas with very few delays, although system performance issues remain an issue and the Consular Consolidated Database is not yet back to full operational capacity.  Visa applicants are advised they might still experience delays of up to one week in addition to normal processing times.

In late July, the Department announced technical problems with the passport and visa system.  By July 27, immigrant visas were given high priority.  The story was widely reported in major media, including many stories of the hardship caused to foreign workers at American companies who were unable to obtain visas to come to the US for work and other problems.   On July 31, the government was still anticipating it would take weeks to resume full visa processing.

The current reports are welcome news, but come with the warning that visa delays are still happening, just that the delays are shorter.  Employers and foreign employees seeking visas should take this into account when planning travel.  It may be faster to delay scheduling an appointment at a consular post until the problem is fully resolved OR it may be important to schedule an appointment as early as possible to allow sufficient time for processing.

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US State Department visa and passport processing almost back to normal