The United States will temporarily require visitors from Iran, Myanmar and several African nations to pay up to $ 15,000 in visa bonds in a new hardline immigration measure enacted at the end of Donald Trump’s presidency.
The rule went into effect on Tuesday for a six-month duration, though it remains to be seen whether it will be upheld by President-elect Joe Biden, who will take office on January 20 and has vowed to be more welcoming to the rest of the world.
The pilot program is designed to offset the costs to the United States government of deporting foreigners who stay longer on their visas, according to a notice published in the Federal Register by Carl Risch, the undersecretary of state for consular affairs.
Visitors with “B” visas, which are issued for short-term business and tourism, will be asked to pay up to $ 15,000, which will be confiscated from the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency if they do not prove they left on time.
The rule will apply to citizens of 23 countries that, according to the statement, have overstay rates of more than 10 percent.
Most of the countries are in Africa, including Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Other nations on the list include Iran, Myanmar, Afghanistan, and Bhutan. Trump has already slashed travel from Iran, part of his promised “Muslim ban” during his 2016 campaign, which Biden plans to rescind.
The vouchers will not affect students or travelers from other developed countries who are exempt from visas to enter the United States.
Contrary to the general practice of changes to immigration rules, the Trump administration abruptly launched the bonds without a period for public comment and review.
The State Department official defended the simplified schedule, saying the issue was a matter of conducting foreign relations and therefore not subject to the usual process.
“The Pilot Program is being studied as a potential diplomatic tool to encourage foreign governments to take all appropriate actions to ensure their citizens leave the United States in a timely manner after making temporary visits,” Risch’s presentation reads.
The rationale is at odds with the summary in the same submission that said the program was intended to reduce the burden on the US government and “is not intended to assess whether the issuance of visa bonds will be effective in reducing the number of foreigners staying longer. “