A new program in the United States will require nonimmigrant visitors from 23 foreign countries – most of them African – to post a US$10,000 bond when applying for travel visas.
The U.S. pilot program targets citizens of nations with high visa overstay rates, according to the U.S. Department of State. The rules were published in the U.S. Federal Register on Tuesday. The program follows on the Trump administration’s “America First” efforts to protect U.S jobs, curb immigration and limit the impacts of visa overstays.
“Individuals who abuse the visa process and decline to abide by the terms and conditions of their visas, including their visa departure dates, undermine the integrity of our immigration system and harm the national interest,” the administration said.
Among African nations, the six-month trial program will affect: Angola, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cabo Verde, Chad, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Eritrea, Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Libya, Mauritania, Sao Tome and Principe and Sudan.
Travelers who apply for U.S. visas will be evaluated by consular officials to determine what level of bond they must post to ensure they will abide by visa limits. While the $10,000 amount is a baseline, U.S. officials will have discretion to lower it to $5,000 or increase it to $15,000 on a case-by-case basis.
“By its design and intention, the pilot program is a tool of diplomacy, intended to encourage foreign governments to take all appropriate actions to reduce the overstay rates of their nationals when traveling to the United States for temporary visits,” the U.S. said. “As such, the rule properly is described as a component of U.S. foreign policy and involving a foreign affairs function.”
While the trial period begins next month and runs through June 2021, it remains unclear whether a new Biden administration will enforce or continue it beyond that point.