US Govt introduces new rule for African tourists; travelers may be required to pay $5,000 refundable bond

WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 30: U.S. President Donald Trump gives pauses to answer a reporters' question about a whistleblower as he leaves the Oval Office after hosting the ceremonial swearing in of Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia at the White House September 30, 2019 in Washington, DC. Scalia was nominated by Trump to lead the Labor Department after Alex Acosta resigned under criticism over a plea deal he reached with Jeffrey Epstein. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

The outgoing administration of President Donald Trump has issued a new temporary rule that could require tourist and business travelers from two dozen countries, mostly in Africa, to pay a refundable bond of $5,000, $10,000, or $15,000 to visit the United States.

The U.S. State Department said on Monday that 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 pilot program aims to test the ‘feasibility of collecting such bonds and will serve as a diplomatic deterrence to overstaying the visas.’

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.

The visa bond 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.

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.

According to US News, countries whose tourist and business travelers could be subject to the bond requirement 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.

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