News reports are confusing about the US Supreme Court’s per curiam decision today to uphold *in part* the visa/travel ban Executive Order (EO). The decision actually is good news for colleges and universities, US employers, and individuals from the affected countries in the United States who have relatives abroad.
The US Supreme Court granted certiorari and will review the consolidated visa/travel ban EO cases in the October term. In the meantime the Court stayed *in part* the preliminary injunctions blocking implementation of the EO. The EO now may be applied to individuals who “lack any bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States.” Eliminating the double negatives involved in staying an injunction barring implementation of an EO, this means the EO still does *not* apply to individuals with a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States, including intending refugees who have a qualifying relationship in the United States. The decision specifies that the following parties clearly have a qualifying relationship so *remain protected* by the preliminary injunctions: those with a close family relationship with an individual in the United States, giving spouse and mother-in-law as examples; students admitted to a US college or university; those who have accepted offers of employment in the United States; and those invited to give a lecture in the United States. Three dissenters, Justices Thomas (writing), Alito and Gorsuch, concurred in part and dissented only as to continuing the preliminary injunctions to protect individuals with qualifying relationships in the United States. The court asked the parties to brief the question whether the case is moot because the 90-day duration of the EO ended on June 16, 2017 even though the Trump Administration tried to extend the effective date to the date of a court decision lifting the preliminary injunctions.