A new policy enacted by the U.S. Department of State (DOS) instructs United States consular officers to limit the issuance of visas to some Chinese citizens as part of the administration’s measures to address China’s alleged intellectual property violations. Although the specifics have not yet been officially released, at least one news agency has reported that the policy will go into effect on June 11, 2018, and may limit visas to just one year on a case-by-case basis for Chinese graduate students studying in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields.
Further, it has been reported that the policy includes a provision requiring special clearances for Chinese citizens seeking visas to work in research or as managers for companies on the U.S. Department of Commerce’s list of entities that require higher scrutiny. The additional clearances could add months of delay to the normal visa process.
Although the proposed changes come amidst President Trump’s trade talks with China, they were originally contemplated in his National Security Strategy released in December 2017, which named China as one of the top countries allegedly violating United States intellectual property laws. As part of his national security strategy, President Trump indicated that the administration would review visa procedures and, more specifically, “consider restrictions on foreign STEM students from designated countries to ensure that intellectual property is not transferred to our competitors.”