WASHINGTON — The Trump administration moved ahead Monday to restrict visitor visas to the U.S. for nationals of countries with high rates of overstaying, including potentially barring their entry entirely.
The presidential memorandum orders top cabinet officials to draw up recommendations for nationals of countries that have an overstay rate of 10% or more based on statistics reported by the Department of Homeland Security.
Those recommendations could include limiting the duration of future visas granted, demanding additional documentation before a visa is granted, or suspending or barring visitors’ entry entirely, the memorandum said.
Countries with overstay rates of 10% or more in previous years have included chiefly African nations, including Chad, Eritrea, Liberia and Nigeria.
The announcement was first reported by The Wall Street Journal a week ago. The memorandum also said that the administration will “engage with the governments” of countries with high overstay rates to identify the conditions contributing to the overstay rates and other ways of addressing them.
The so-called B1 and B2 visitor visas are chiefly used by people from countries that don’t have a visa waiver agreement with the U.S. Such countries with a visa waiver agreement include many European and developed countries, including the U.K., France, Japan and South Korea. The presidential memorandum issued Monday also said the administration would scrutinize overstays by participants in the Visa Waiver Program.
The memorandum instructs the Department of Homeland Security, currently headed by acting Secretary Kevin McAleenan, to draw up additional recommendations for the Visa Waiver Program.
It also orders Mr. McAleenan and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to develop a scheme for imposing admissions bonds on visitors to ensure they comply with the terms and conditions of their visas. Critics of illegal immigration have frequently eyed people who come to the U.S. with authorization but subsequently overstay, as well as people who enter without permission at the border.
The memorandum instructs cabinet officials to act within “applicable law.” It is almost certain to prompt a court battle over whether the administration can take such a step.
BY LOUISE RADNOFSKY