The United States Mission in Nigeria on Tuesday published a disclaimer to repudiate claims that Nigerians are expected to pay between $5,000 and $15,000 in bonds to procure visa.
The U.S. State Department said the temporary final rule, which takes effect Dec. 24 and runs through June 24 2021, targets countries whose nationals have higher rates of overstaying B-2 visas for tourists and B-1 visas for business travellers. 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.
What this means
The visa bond rule will allow U.S. Consular officers to require tourist and business travellers 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.
Twenty-four countries meet these criteria, including 15 African countries.
While those nations had higher rates of overstays, they sent relatively few travellers to the United States.
Historically, U.S. Consular officers have been discouraged from requiring travellers to the United States to post a bond, with State Department guidance saying processing of the bonds would be “cumbersome,” the temporary rule said.
A Department of Homeland Security (DHS) report on that fiscal year shows the worst offenders were typically from Chad (44.94 percent), Djibouti (37.91 percent), and Mauritania (30.49 percent). 15 of the 24 countries above 10 percent are in Africa.
But the list also includes Iran at 21.64 percent and Afghanistan at 11.99 percent, as well as Bhutan and Laos.
The DHS report counted more than 422,000 instances of overstays in the fiscal year 2019 by business and tourism visitors, including those who came through the Visa Waiver Program and those who did not.
The planned pilot period into June is an effort to discourage overstays and to test a system for collecting the de facto deposits on leaving.
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