The U.S. State Department unveiled plans Monday for a six-month “visa bond” pilot program whereby consular officials would require a limited number of B-1/B-2 visa applicants to post a bond of $5,000, $10,000 or $15,000 in order to travel to the United States.

Key Points:

  • A temporary final rule on the visa bond program is expected to be published in the Federal Register tomorrow, Nov. 24. Under the plan, the program would take effect Dec. 24 and would remain in place for six months through June 24, 2021.
  • The program would require the payment of a bond by a small number of travelers, specifically nationals of 23 countries with historically high overstay rates who are applying for B-1/B-2 visas, and require a waiver of visa ineligibility. The 23 countries whose nationals are covered in the rule are Afghanistan, Angola, Bhutan, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cabo Verde, Chad, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Eritrea, the Gambia, Guinea Bissau, Iran, Laos, Liberia, Libya, Mauritania, Myanmar, Papua New Guinea, Sao Tome and Principe, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen.
  • Bonds will not be required for visa applicants from countries not listed in the rule or from those traveling through the visa-waiver program. The bond can also be waived by the Department of State.
  • An unpublished version of the rule is available here.

BAL Analysis: The State Department rule says the pilot program is designed to “assess the operational feasibility of posting, processing, and discharging visa bonds” and “to help assess the burden on government agencies and identify any practical challenges related to visa bonds.” The agency deliberately chose a small group in order to test the feasibility of using visa bonds. For that reason, the impact will likely be minimal. It is likely that the next administration will not be interested in pursuing this initiative, and the new administration could effectively decline to implement the rule by waiving all bond applications. BAL will continue to follow the implementation of the rule and will provide clients with updates as information becomes available.

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

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