57 Days to Go, Trump Unveils New Visa Protocol That ‘ll Require Tourists To Pay As Much As $15,000 In Bonds

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*Nigeria Not included in this six months pilot program…

By Hamilton Nwosa(Head, The New Diplomat’s Polling, Research and Data Desk) with Agency report.

With just about  57 days to go, the  administration of President Donald Trump of the United States  on Monday unveiled a new temporary protocol that might potentially necessitate tourist and business travelers from 24 countries, especially African countries, to pay as   much as $15,000  in bond to visit America.

According to Reuters, the U.S. State Department said the temporary but final protocol which comes into effect on December 24, would compulsorily run through up until June 24.

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U.S. State Department officials said this latest protocol tends to focus on countries whose nationals have higher rates  and tendency to overstay B-2 visas for tourists and B-1 visas for business travelers.

According to officials of the Trump administration ” 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.”

Nigeria is not included in the  new Visa Bond Pilot Scheme, according to a statement issued by the US State Department.

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The state reads in part: ”  Accordingly, the State Department will begin a limited six-month visa bond pilot program beginning on December 24, 2020. We are committed to combating visa overstays and making sure travelers 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. Nigeria is not included in this six months pilot program.”

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Recall that  incumbent President Trump had lost  his  re-election bid to Democratic Presidential Candidate, Joe Biden, who is now president-elect earlier this month.

In his four year tenure, the Trump administration  had made various changes on immigration  including ban for nationals of some designated countries.

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However, Biden, the Democratic presidential candidate who defeated Trump earlier this month, has promised to reverse many of Trump’s immigration policies and protocols.

According to Reuters, the Biden’s transition team did not immediately respond to a request for comment related to this latest visa bond requirement.

The visa bond rule would ensure that United States consular officers  to demand as a necessity  tourist and business travelers from  designated and determined 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.”

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Media reports indicate that  about twenty-four countries  including 15 African countries fall into this bracket.  However, while some nations had higher rates of overstays, they have often dispatched relatively few travelers to the US.

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Recall that traditionally, America consular officers have often been disapproved 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.

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Reports listed some of the countries whose tourist and business travelers could be subject to the bond requirement include those from Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia, Sudan, Chad, Angola, Burundi, Djibouti and Eritrea. Other countries include Afghanistan, Bhutan, Iran, Syria, Laos and Yemen.

This latest move by the Trump administration is coming about 57 days to the end of its tenure. Recall that US President –elect Joe Biden is scheduled to  take the oath of office on January 20, 2021.

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The scheduled  public ceremony which  is billed to hold on the West Front of the United States Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. will be the 59th presidential inauguration.

Biden will take the oath of office as president on that day, while Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will take the oath of office as vice president, respcetively.

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Incumbent President Trump  had on Tuesday accepted that a formal US transition should begin for President-elect Joe Biden to take office, a development that has seen him shifting grounds from his earlier headstrong  posture.

The BBC  report quotes Trump reportedly  directing  the” federal agency overseeing the handover must “do what needs to be done”, even as he vowed to keep contesting his election defeat.”

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It would be recalled that the  General Services Administration (GSA) had said it was acknowledging Joe  Biden as the “apparent winner” of the United States Presidential election having won both the electoral college votes and the popular votes.

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With that pronouncement by the  GSA, the implication is that president-elect Joe Biden would expectedly have access to top security briefings, office space and government officials as he prepares to take office on 20 January.

His transition website has now changed to a US government domain.  Similarly Biden would, going forward , also  commence the process of unveiling his cabinet picks or nominees for various positions. He has said he would begin that process Tuesday.

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