Supreme Court Finds Trump Administration’s Travel Ban Lawful

The Supreme Court’s ruling maintains its December 2017 decision to allow the administration to fully enforce its ban while the ban's legality is challenged in lower courts as a violation of religious liberty for targeting Muslim-majority countries.

** LEGAL UPDATE **

On June 26, 2018 the Supreme Court held that the Trump administration’s travel ban is lawful under the President’s broad powers over immigration and national security. By a five to four majority, the Court found that the President “lawfully executed his broad discretion” to prevent the entry of noncitizens whose entry would “be detrimental the interests of the United States” because of the security risk it poses.

The administration’s most recent travel ban (which is the third version of the ban) was established in a September 2017 executive order and restricts the ability of nationals from Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela and Yemen to enter or immigrate to the United States. The third travel ban originally also included restrictions for nationals from Chad, which were later removed.

The ban does not affect nationals who already have lawful permanent resident status (“green card” holders). It also does not affect those seeking asylum or refugees who have already been admitted to the United States. Finally, it will not apply to dual nationals who enter under the passport of a non-affected country.

The Supreme Court’s ruling maintains its December 2017 decision to allow the administration to fully enforce its ban while the ban's legality is challenged in lower courts as a violation of religious liberty for targeting Muslim-majority countries. The Supreme Court’s decision means that the administration will be able to continue to enforce the ban while challenges continue in lower courts.

Because challenges to the ban are still being considered in lower courts, the decision is not necessarily the end of the legal case against the ban. Nonetheless, the Supreme Court majority in the most recent decision stated that it is unlikely to ultimately find that the travel ban is based on religious animus against Muslims and is therefore unconstitutional. The ban should therefore be expected to remain in place for the foreseeable future.

How Nationals of Restricted Countries Will Be Affected

The travel ban affects people from the seven restricted countries to varying degrees.

Immigrants and nonimmigrants from Iran an ineligible to enter the U.S., except with certain student and exchange visas. Libyans, Syrians, North Koreans, and Yemenis are ineligible to enter the U.S. as an immigrant or nonimmigrant. Somalis cannot enter the U.S. as immigrants, but may be able to enter as nonimmigrants. Venezuelans are generally not banned from entering the U.S. under the ban and restrictions only apply to government officials and their family members.

Nationals of all restricted countries should expect enhanced screening when entering the U.S. even if they qualify to enter.

Availability of Waivers for Nationals Affected by the Travel Ban

Under the travel ban, waivers are available, at least in theory, for people who can show that denying their entry would cause them undue hardship, would not pose a threat to national security or public safety, and would be in the national interest.

Still, the vast majority of waiver requests have been denied, and only a small handful have been granted since the ban took effect last year.

Effective Date: June 26, 2018