U.S. expands family definition for visas
WASHINGTON — The State Department on Monday expanded its definition of “close family” to include grandparents and other relatives that constitute a bona fide U.S. relationship for visa applicants and refugees from six mainly Muslim nations.
In response to a Hawaii federal judge’s order last week, the department instructed U.S. diplomats to consider grandparents, grandchildren, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, aunts and uncles, nephews and nieces and first cousins to meet the criteria for applicants to receive a U.S. visa.
They had been omitted by the department after the Supreme Court in June partially upheld the travel ban issued by President Donald Trump’s administration. Initially, the definition of “close family” had included only parents, spouses, fiances, children, adult sons or daughters, sons-in-law, daughters-in-law and siblings. Monday’s instructions change that.
Under the rules, applicants from the six countries — Syria, Sudan, Iran, Somalia, Libya and Yemen — have to prove a bona fide relationship with a person or entity, such as a “close familial relationship” in the U.S., to be exempt from the ban.
On Thursday, U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson ruled that excluding grandparents and other family members defied common sense.
The Trump administration has appealed the Hawaii order to the Supreme Court.
A motorist and others attempt to push a car through water in Wilkes Barre, Pa., after storms flooded the area Monday.