LOS ANGELES - A US appeals court allowed President Donald Trump to proceed with part of the latest version of his travel ban on Monday, but it created an exemption for foreigners with American ties.
The ruling by the Ninth US Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco bars citizens of six Muslim-majority countries who do not have a "bona fide" relationship with a person or entity already in the US.
The White House issued a new executive order in September to replace an expiring 90-day temporary ban on travellers from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.
Sudan was removed, and Chad, North Korea and Venezuela added, but activists and legal experts say Trump's intent remains to sharply curb the inflow of Muslim visitors and immigrants.
Federal Judge Derrick Watson in Hawaii blocked the ban for the six mainly Muslim countries, announced hours before it was due to come into effect.
But the US government appealed, saying the rulings undermined Trump's efforts to fight terrorism, and the San Francisco court agreed to stay those decisions.
Visa applicants with relatives in the US as well as those with jobs, business ties or connections to educational institutions are excepted under the latest ruling.
The decision spells out the "close family relationship" exception to include grandparents, grandchildren, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews and cousins.
The panel of three judges did not offer a rationale for the decision, but the ruling cites an interim order the Supreme Court issued in June on the earlier version of the ban.
The Ninth Circuit court will hear arguments on 6 December on whether to keep or permanently overturn Watson's stay.