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The U.S. Supreme Court agreed on Monday to hear President Trump’s appeal of two cases in which lower courts overruled his travel ban, but the justices allowed parts of the ban to take effect until they issue a ruling. With arguments scheduled for the autumn, a ruling on the appeal could be a year away.

In an unsigned order accompanying its decision to hear the appeal, the Supreme Court essentially said that the federal government can enforce the travel ban — which blocks people from six predominantly Muslim countries from entering the United States — except with respect to “foreign nationals who have a credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States.”

What constitutes a “bona fide relationship”? The order says that, for individuals, a close familial relationship is required to be considered for a visa; and for “entities, the relationship must be formal, documented, and formed in the ordinary course, rather than for the purpose of evading EO-2,” a reference to Mr. Trump’s second executive order establishing a travel ban.

The order explicitly states that students from the designated countries who have been admitted to American colleges have a qualifying “relationship with an American entity,” as would “a worker who accepted an offer of employment from an American company or a lecturer invited to address an American audience.”

Mr. Trump’s revised second executive order, released in March, barred the issuance of new visas (including student visas) to people from six majority-Muslim countries for 90 days and halted the United States’ refugee program for 120 days. Since then, two federal appeals courts have ruled against the executive order, upholding a freeze on carrying it out.

When the travel ban was first announced, in an executive order issued in January, many students and college officials were left grappling with what the ban might mean for students from the affected countries. It seemed that they would be allowed to complete their studies at American colleges, but if they travelled home to visit during a vacation, for example, they might not be permitted to return to the United States.

The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the case, Nos. 16–1436 (16A1190) and 16–1540 (16A1191), in October to decide whether Mr. Trump’s revised ban is lawful and constitutional.

Source: The Chronicle of Higher Education, June 2017