A presidential memo issued Monday directs the State Department and Department of Homeland Security to reduce overstays of business and tourist visitors and other nonimmigrant visa holders.

Although the memo does not impose immediate restrictions, it instructs agencies to take certain steps and report back to the president within 120 days.

Key points:

  • Immediate steps. The Secretary of State and Secretary of Homeland Security are directed to immediately take steps within their authorities to reduce overstay rates for all nonimmigrant visas categories, including bilateral talks with governments of countries of concern.
  • Identified countries. The State Department will make recommendations within 120 days on how to reduce overstay rates for countries with total overstay rates greater than 10% in the combined business and tourist (B1 and B2) visa categories during the previous fiscal year.
  • Recommendations. Recommendations may include a travel ban on any of the identified countries (which would require a new presidential proclamation to implement), limiting visa validity and requesting additional documentation from those nationals.
  • Admission bonds. The Secretary of State and Secretary of Homeland Security will take steps to develop a system of requiring admission bonds of nonimmigrant visa holders entering the U.S. to reduce overstays, and report their progress to the president within 120 days.
  • Visa waiver program. The Secretary of Homeland Security will report within 180 days on efforts to reduce overstays from nationals participating in the visa waiver program, including recommendations for additional actions.

BAL Analysis: The presidential memorandum does not immediately impose any restrictions on business, tourist or other nonimmigrant visa holders. Foreign nationals, however, should anticipate new limitations to be introduced, particularly for nationals of countries with high overstay rates in the past. Limiting visa validity periods is the likeliest response, since it can be readily implemented under the current legal authority of the State Department. BAL is monitoring these developments and will report any significant changes to visa policy.

This alert has been provided by the BAL U.S. Practice group. For additional information, please contact berryapplemanleiden@bal.com.

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