U.S. ex­pands fam­ily def­i­ni­tion for visas

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - NATIONAL -

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.

AP/The Cit­i­zens’ Voice/DAVE SCHER­BENCO

A mo­torist and oth­ers at­tempt to push a car through wa­ter in Wilkes Barre, Pa., af­ter storms flooded the area Mon­day.

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