Nigerian visitors to the United States (US) may have to pay up to $15,000 in bonds according to a new temporary policy issued to discourage nationals of some countries with higher visa overstay rate.
The President Donald Trump administration introduced the visa bond pilot programme on Monday for B-1 visas (for business travellers) and B-2 visas (for tourists) and it is expected to run for six months — December 24 to June 24, 2021.
The rule will see US consular officials ask travellers from affected countries to pay a refundable bond of $5,000, $10,000 or $15,000. About 15 African countries are said to be on the list.
The visa bond pilot programme by the US Department of State is said to target mostly African countries with high visa overstay — the visitors are believed to have entered the country legally on student, tourist, work visas and then stay past their visa expiration date.
“The purpose of the pilot program is to assess the operational feasibility of posting, processing and discharging visa bonds, in coordination with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), to help assess the burden on government agencies and identify any practical challenges related to visa bonds,” the policy document read.
“The pilot program is designed to apply to nationals of specified countries with high overstay rates to serve as a diplomatic tool to encourage foreign governments to take all appropriate actions to ensure their nationals timely depart the United States after making temporary visits.
“The Pilot Program will run for six months. During that period, consular officers may require nonimmigrant visa applicants falling within the scope of the Pilot Program to post a bond in the amount of $5,000, $10,000, or $15,000 as a condition of visa issuance.
“The amount of the bond, should a bond be appropriate, will be determined by the consular officer based on the circumstances of the visa applicant.”
According to data from the DHS, almost 30,000 Nigerians overstayed their B1/B2 visas in 2018, ranking as the 5th country with the most visa overstays in the US. This makes Nigeria the African country with the most visa overstays.
In January, the United States had imposed an immigrant visa ban on Nigeria as a result of the country’s failure to comply with its established identity-management and information-sharing criteria.