A new temporary rule that could require tourist and business travellers from a dozen African countries, including Nigeria, to pay a bond from $5,000 to $15,000 to visit the United States, will take effect from 24 December.
Other countries whose tourist and business travellers could be subject to the bond requirement are those from Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia, Sudan, Chad, Angola, Burundi, Djibouti and Eritrea.
Afghanistan, Bhutan, Iran, Syria, Laos and Yemen are also listed.
Nigerian travellers will have to pay the bond as some categories of visitors overshot the threshold of 10 percent and above overstaying rate.
Overall, out of 177,835 Nigerians who visited the US in 2019, the overstaying rate was between 9.45-9.88 percent.
A total of 17,566 overstayed. Out of the figure, 764 departed late and 16,802 stayed in the country.
But in other classifications, 11.12 percent of 9,336 Nigerian non-immigrant and exchange visitors overstayed.
Another 13.67 percent of in-scope nonimmigrant visitors also overstayed same year.
The U.S. State Department said the temporary final rule, which takes effect Dec. 24 and runs through June 24, 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.
Trump, who lost a re-election bid earlier this month, made restricting immigration a central part of his four-year term in office.
President-elect Joe Biden, a Democrat, has pledged to reverse many of the Republican president’s immigration policies, but untangling hundreds of changes could take months or years.
Biden’s transition team did not immediately respond to a request for comment related to the visa bond requirement, Reuters reported.
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 that 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). In fact, 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 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. (PM NEWS)