People & Money

Trump’s New Policy Imposes $15,000 Visa Bond on Visitors from 15 Countries

A temporary travel rule from the United States’ Department of State is demanding that visitors from 15 African countries including Nigeria may have to pay up to $15,000 in visa bonds.

The freshly-minted rule targets countries whose nationals had an “overstay rate” of 10 percent or higher in 2019. The U.S. consular officials will now ask travellers from affected countries to pay a refundable bond of $5,000, $10,000, or $15,000.

The six-month pilot programme – which comes into effect on 24 December and targets those on both visitor and business visas – is meant to dissuade nationals of some countries with higher visa overstay rates.

The President Donald Trump administration introduced the visa bond pilot programme on Monday for B-1 visas (for business travellers) and B-2 visas (for tourists) and it is expected to run for six months — December 24 to June 24, 2021.

The visa bond pilot programme by the Department of State is said to target mostly African countries with high visa overstay — the visitors are believed to have entered the country legally on the student, tourist, work visas and then stay past their visa expiration date.

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“The purpose of the pilot program is to assess the operational feasibility of posting, processing and discharging visa bonds, in coordination with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), to help assess the burden on government agencies and identify any practical challenges related to visa bonds,” the policy document read.

“The pilot program is designed to apply to nationals of specified countries with high overstay rates to serve as a diplomatic tool to encourage foreign governments to take all appropriate actions to ensure their nationals timely depart the United States after making temporary visits.

“The Pilot Program will run for six months. During that period, consular officers may require nonimmigrant visa applicants falling within the scope of the Pilot Program to post a bond in the amount of $5,000, $10,000, or $15,000 as a condition of visa issuance.

“The amount of the bond, should a bond be appropriate, will be determined by the consular officer based on the circumstances of the visa applicant.”

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The African countries affected are Angola, Burkina Faso, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Eritrea, The Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Libya, Mauritania, Sudan, Sao Tome and Principe, Cape Verde, Burundi.

It may be recalled that the United States had in January imposed an immigrant visa ban on Nigeria as a result of the country’s failure to comply with its established identity-management and information-sharing criteria. President Donald Trump, who lost a re-election bid earlier this month, has made restricting immigration a central part of his term in office.

President-elect Joe Biden, a Democrat, has however pledged to reverse many of the immigration policies put in place by the Republican President, but this could take months or years.

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