On November 24, 2020, the Department of State (DOS) published a temporary rule providing for a visa bond pilot program from December 24, 2020, through June 24, 2021.
The six-month pilot program aims to assess the operational feasibility of issuing visa bonds to inform future decisions regarding the use of such bonds to address temporary business visitor/tourist (B-1/B-2) overstays. Those potentially subject to the pilot program include B-1/B-2 visa applicants who are from countries with high visa overstay rates and have been approved by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for an inadmissibility waiver. DOS said the program is intended to serve as a “diplomatic tool” to encourage foreign governments to ensure that their nationals timely leave the United States after temporary visits.
During the six-month pilot program, consular officers may require nonimmigrant visa applicants falling within the program’s scope to post a bond of $5,000, $10,000, or $15,000 as a condition of visa issuance. The amount will be determined by the consular officer “based on the circumstances of the visa applicant.” The consular officer can also recommend a waiver of the visa bond if he or she believes a waiver would advance a humanitarian or national interest.
The pilot program will focus on nationals of Afghanistan, Angola, Bhutan, Burkina Faso, Burma, Burundi, Cabo Verde, Chad, Democratic Republic of the Congo (Kinshasa), Djibouti, Eritrea, the Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Iran, Laos, Liberia, Libya, Mauritania, Papua New Guinea, Sao Tome and Principe, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. The program does not apply to those traveling under the Visa Waiver Program.