New Rule Lets Consulates Deny Visas Wholesale to Entire Countries

A new regulation took effect on April 22, 2019 that allows consular officers to deny or refuse to accept all visa applications for citizens of countries that the U.S. wants to sanction for not timely issuing travel documents or facilitating the removal of their citizens from the U.S. .

The rule applies to foreign citizens applying for visas at U.S. consulates within their home countries,  whether for nonimmigrant (temporary) visas, such as for visitors, students, and professional level temporary workers, or for immigrant visas to confer permanent residency on immediate family members of U.S. citizens and permanent residents, or on employees of U.S. companies.

The rule allows the administration to designate countries that it deems to be delaying or otherwise being unhelpful with repatriation efforts to deny visas to their citizens on a virtually wholesale basis, in a quiet fashion without the publicity and potential public outcry that accompanied President Trump’s earlier executive “travel ban” orders.

It remains to be seen how readily this new rule will be used, but it represents another example of how, without any Congressional action, the administration is reshaping the landscape  of legal immigration to the U.S.