On April 22, 2019, the Department of State published a final rule setting out procedures that allow consular officers to discontinue granting visas to nationals of a country subject to sanctions under § 243(d) of the Immigration and Nationality Act.
Section 243(d) provides that—when notified by the Secretary of Homeland Security that a foreign country government has denied or unreasonably delayed accepting an alien who is the citizen, subject, national, or resident of that country and is subject to a final order of removal from the United States— the Secretary of State shall order consular officers in that foreign country to “discontinue granting” immigrant visas, nonimmigrant visas, or both to citizens, subjects, nationals, or residents in that country. The Secretary of State imposes these visa sanctions by issuing an order to consular officers that describes the category or categories of visas and applicants subject to discontinuation of visa grants.
Before publication of the final rule, the pertinent regulations made no reference to the option of discontinuation of granting visas pursuant to INA § 243(d). Through issuance of this rule, the Department of State states that it closes the gap and formalizes procedures by which consular officers can discontinue the granting of visas under an order by the Secretary of State. However, the rule, in essence, provides a streamlined method by which the US government can issue blanket sanctions on foreign nationals seeking visas if the country in question has not cooperated with the US government’s immigration enforcement priorities. The rule represents a flexing by the current administration to force the compliance of other countries to its immigration policy.
Presently, INA § 243(d) visa sanctions have been levied on a select number of countries:
|Cambodia (09/13/2017)||Certain government officials|
|Sierra Leone (09/13/2017)||Certain government officials|
|Eritrea (09/13/2017)||All citizens|
|Burma (07/09/2018)||Certain government officials|
|Laos (07/09/2018)||Certain government officials|
|Ghana (01/31/2019)||To be determined|
However, a recent report issued by the Congressional Research Service summarizes and identifies a larger number of countries that have been identified as either “Recalcitrant/Uncooperative” or “At Risk of Non-Compliance.”
|Thailand||At Risk of Non-Compliance|
|Bhutan||At Risk of Non-Compliance|
|Pakistan||At Risk of Non-Compliance|
|Iraq||At Risk of Non-Compliance|
|Lebanon||At Risk of Non-Compliance|
|Israel||At Risk of Non-Compliance|
|Egypt||At Risk of Non-Compliance|
|Sudan||At Risk of Non-Compliance|
|Ethiopia||At Risk of Non-Compliance|
|Kenya||At Risk of Non-Compliance|
|Uganda||At Risk of Non-Compliance|
|Burundi||At Risk of Non-Compliance|
|Namibia||At Risk of Non-Compliance|
|Nigeria||At Risk of Non-Compliance|
|Togo||At Risk of Non-Compliance|
|Algeria||At Risk of Non-Compliance|
Should diplomatic solutions be exhausted between the United States and any of the above countries in negotiations over repatriation of certain foreign nationals to those countries, we will provide notification of additional visa sanctions in the future.