US Introduces New Policy Asking African Tourists To Pay $15,000 Refundable Visa Bond

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The outgoing administration of President Donald Trump has issued a new temporary policy that could require tourist and business travelers from two dozen countries, mostly in Africa, to pay up to $15,000 in refundable bonds to visit the United States.

According to the U.S. State Department who made this known in a statement on Monday, the temporary final rule, which takes effect Dec. 24 and runs through June 24, targets countries whose nationals have higher rates of overstaying B-2 visas for tourists and B-1 visas for business travelers.

The Trump administration said the six-month visa bond pilot program aims to test the “feasibility of collecting such bonds and will serve as a diplomatic deterrence to overstaying the visas.”

The rule will allow U.S. consular officers to require tourist and business travelers from countries whose nationals had an “overstay rate” of 10% or higher in 2019 to pay a refundable bond of $5,000, $10,000, or $15,000. The report said twenty-four countries meet that criteria, including 15 African countries.

Local media reports that Trump, who lost his re-election bid earlier this month, made restrictions on visas a part of his four-year term in office. President-elect Joe Biden has pledged to reverse many of Trump’s immigration policies when he gets into office.

Historically, U.S. consular officers have been discouraged from requiring travelers to the United States to post a bond, with State Department guidance saying processing of the bonds would be “cumbersome,” the temporary rule said.

US news however confirmed the countries whose tourist and business travelers could be subject to the bond requirement. They include those from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia, Sudan, Chad, Angola, Burundi, Djibouti, and Eritrea. Other countries include Afghanistan, Bhutan, Iran, Syria, Laos, and Yemen.

According to data from the DHS, almost 30,000 Nigerians overstayed their B1/B2 visas in 2018, ranking as the 5th country with the most visa overstays in the US. This makes Nigeria the African country with the most visa overstays.

In January, the United States had 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.

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