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Who do the visa sanctions recently announced by the Department of State affect? Why can’t nationals of Cambodia, Eritrea, Guinea and Sierra Leone be issued tourist visas?

By September 27, 2017April 7th, 2021Immigration

The Department of State recently announced that it will stop issuing B tourist visas to nationals of the following countries: Cambodia, Eritrea, Guinea, and Sierra Leone. Nationals of Guinea will also not be issued F student visas, nor J or M exchange visitor visas. The sanctions took effect on September 13, 2017.

The reasoning cited for these sanctions being implemented are due to these countries either not accepting their nationals who have been ordered removed by an Immigration Judge, or have unreasonably delayed the issuance of travel documents for their nationals who have been ordered removed. The Department of Homeland Security based its decision on public safety, stating that since some of these individuals who have been ordered removed have criminal convictions, these countries’ non-acceptance of their removed nationals created a public safety risk in the United States.

The reasoning behind these sanctions provides a good opportunity to briefly describe just what happens when a non-citizen has a contact with the criminal justice system, as it is something that is certainly not fully understood by those not directly affected by it or who work in the field of immigration. An individual does not normally go through removal proceedings, which are the hearings before an Immigration Judge to determine whether someone should be deported from the United States, until after a criminal sentence is completed. For example, if someone were sentenced to two years in prison as punishment for committing an offense, he or she would complete that sentence and then be detained again upon release in immigration detention to face deportation. Oftentimes, individuals are brought directly from criminal custody to immigration custody. This includes green card holders and others who are lawfully present in the U.S. pursuant to the immigration laws. In fact, large numbers of green card holders are deported and separated from their lives and families in the U.S. for relatively low level charges; immigration law sanctions a wide range of criminal conduct, even for charges that may be ultimately dismissed.

Additionally, individuals are obviously not just ordered removed because of criminal activity. If someone is unlawfully present in the United States without a form of relief which is already quite limited, he or she will be ordered deported.

Therefore, the actual situation is that individuals who have been ordered deported either have no criminal history, or there is a criminal history but the deportation order more likely than not happened after the individual served their sentence. If one is to believe that the criminal justice system exists to sufficiently rehabilitate and punish individuals who have committed crimes, such individuals have already served the time the State has determined necessary for rehabilitation/punishment and have ultimately been released because the criminal justice system no longer considers them public safety risks.

If you are a national of one of the above referenced countries affected by these sanctions and have additional questions about how this may be impact you or your family, please schedule a consultation by clicking below.

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