US sets criteria for visa applicants from six Muslim nations
President Trump ordered the new restrictions to replace an expiring measure that had locked him into political and legal battles. Photograph: (Reuters)
Visa applicants from six Muslim-majority countries must have a close family relationship to a US individual or formal ties to a US entity to be admitted to the United States under guidance distributed by the US State Department on Wednesday.
The guidance defined a close familial relationship as being a parent, spouse, child, adult son or daughter, son-in-law, daughter-in-law or sibling, including step siblings and other step family relations, according to a copy of a cable distributed to all US diplomatic posts and seen by Reuters.
The cable, first reported by the Associated Press, said close family "does not include grandparents, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins, brothers-laws and sisters-in-law, fiancés, and any other 'extended' family members."
It also specified that any relationship with a US entity "must be formal, documented, and formed in the ordinary course, rather than for the purpose of evading the EO" a reference to US President Donald Trump's March 6 executive order temporarily barring most US travel by citizens of six nations.
The cable provides advice to US consular officers on how to interpret Monday's Supreme Court ruling that allowed parts of the executive order, which had been blocked by the courts, to be implemented while the highest US court considers the matter.
Time reports that when Trump was running for the presidency, he called for a "Muslim ban", a phrase that came back to haunt him when the courts determined that the executive order was "rooted in religious animus and intended to bar Muslims from this country".
At various times, Trump's administration has denied the executive order was a "travel ban", with White House spokesman Sean Spicer saying in late January: "It's not a Muslim ban. It's not a travel ban. It's a vetting system to keep America safe."
But the president himself has also specifically framed it as a "travel ban".
We need to be smart, vigilant and tough. We need the courts to give us back our rights. We need the Travel Ban as an extra level of safety!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 3, 2017
(With inputs from agencies)