NIGERIANS have been excluded from President Donald Trump’s controversial and inexplicable visa bond pilot scheme under which visitors entering the US will have to pay a feed of between 5,000 and $15,000.
In a departing blow to migrants as he prepares to leave the White House, President Trump is introducing the new policy that will effect from December 24, 2020 and will last until June 24, 2021. Known as the Temporary Final Rule (TFR), details of the policy are contained in a Department of State Public Notice aimed at discouraging non-citizens from overstaying when they visit America.
According to the US State Department, the programme applies to nationals of specified countries with high overstay rates. It aims to serve as a diplomatic tool to encourage foreign governments to take all appropriate actions to ensure their nationals timely depart the US after making temporary visits.
A State Department spokesman said: “The Pilot Programme will run for six months. During that period, consular officers may require non-immigrant visa applicants falling within the scope of the Pilot Programme to post a bond in the amount of $5,000, $10,000, or $15,000 as a condition of visa issuance.
“The presidential memorandum highlights the fact that visa overstay rates are unacceptably high for nationals of certain countries and concludes that, individuals who abuse the visa process and decline to abide by the terms and conditions of their visas, including their visa.”
Under the scheme, the amount of the bond will be determined by the consular officer based on the circumstances of the visa applicant. When operational, the policy will authorise consular officers to require the posting of a maintenance of status and departure bond for anyone applying for and otherwise eligible to receive a business visitor/tourist visa.
An overstay is described as a non-immigrant lawfully admitted to the US for a period but remains beyond his or her authorised period of admission. This new policy comes just months after America announced a plan to restrict students from Nigeria and others from admission of more than two years.
However, Nigeria has been excluded from the new visa bond pilot scheme according to the US embassy in Abuja. An embassy spokesman said: “In response to the April 2019 Presidential Memorandum on Combating High Non-immigrant Overstay Rates, the State Department and our embassies and consulates overseas conducted an in-depth analysis to identify and address root causes of overstays.
“Among other efforts to address this challenge, the State Department is considering additional steps to address overstays, including piloting a limited visa bonds programme to test, in coordination with the Department of Homeland Security, the operational feasibility of posting, processing and discharging visa bonds as means to ensure the timely departure from the United States of certain travellers. Accordingly, the State Department will begin a limited six-month visa bond pilot programme beginning on December 24, 2020.
“We are committed to combating visa overstays and making sure travellers to the United States respect our laws. The implementation of this pilot builds on our engagement with foreign governments in recent years and will ensure continued progress to reduce overstay rates.”