The State Department on Monday expanded its definition of “close family” to include grandparents and different relatives that constitute a “bona fide” US relationship for visa applicants and refugees from six mainly Muslim countries.

In response to a Hawaii federal judge’s order a week ago, the department instructed US diplomats to consider grandchildren,  grandparents, sisters-in-law, brothers-in-law, uncles and aunts and nephews and nieces and first cousins to meet the criteria for applicants from the six nations to get a US visa.

They had been omitted by the department after the Supreme Court partially maintained the Trump administration’s travel ban in June.

Initially, it had included just parents, fiances, spouses, children, sons or daughters, sons-in-law, daughters-in-law and siblings. Monday’s instructions change that.


“The ruling is taking effect right now and we have issued instructions to our embassies and consulates to utilize the expanded definition while adjudicating visa cases,” the department said. Under the rules, applicants from the six nations – Syria, Sudan, Iran, Somalia, Libya and Yemen – need to demonstrate a bona fide relationship with a man or entity, including a “close familial relationship” in the US to be absolved from the ban.

US District Judge Derrick Watson had decided on Thursday that excluding grandparents and others resisted common sense.

“Common sense, for instance, manages that close family members be defined to include grandparents,” he composed. “Indeed grandparents are the embodiment of close family members.”

The Trump administration has requested the Hawaii order to the Supreme Court saying that Watson’s interpretation of the Supreme Court’s ruling on what family relationships qualify refugees and visitors from the six Muslim-majority nations to enter the US “empties the court’s choice of meaning, as it includes not simply “close” family members, but rather basically all family members. Treating these relationships as ‘close familial relationship(s)’ peruses the term “close” out of the Court’s choice.”