US limiting visas in four countries for refusing deportations

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The State Department will stop granting some visas to citizens of Eritrea, Cambodia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, arguing that the countries are denying or delaying accepting their citizens the U.S. wants to deport.

In a series of cables sent to U.S. consular officers around the world and obtained by Reuters, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the visa restrictions would be lifted when the countries accept their nationals under removal orders in the U.S.

Among the four nations targeted by the visa sanctions, Eritrea is the hardest hit. Citizens applying for B visas — temporary visitor visas for business or tourism — within Eritrea will be rejected, according to one of the cables. 


In Guinea, the visa sanctions specifically target government officials and their immediate family members. The sanctions are even narrower in Cambodia, targeting employees of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs with the rank of director general or higher and their families.

Likewise, in Sierra Leone, the visa sanctions affect Foreign Ministry and immigration officials applying for tourist and business visas at the U.S. Embassy in Freetown, according to another cable posted by Reuters.

The cables, however, carve out exceptions for citizens applying for visas outside of the sanctioned countries, as well as for humanitarian or emergency purposes and for travel “deemed in the interest of the United States.” The measures do not affect visas that have already been granted. 

A July list of countries considered “recalcitrant,” or unwilling to take back their citizens from the U.S., named Burma, China, Cuba, Cambodia, Eritrea, Guinea, Vietnam, Hong Kong, Iran, Laos, Morocco and South Sudan. 

Sierra Leone was not on that list, according to Reuters.

While the U.S. is allowed to impose such visa sanctions, the move is relatively uncommon, Reuters reported, having been used just twice over the past 15 years.

Tags Cambodia Eritrea Guinea Rex Tillerson Sierra Leone State Department

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