The State Department has released changes to its foreign policy manual that tighten rules for people entering the U.S. on non-immigrant – specifically tourist – visas.
“This was a process of taking a closer look at visa ineligibilities and making sure that people follow the rules we have in place and that we apply our rules consistently and correctly,” a spokesman for the State Department told India-West.
“It is not a new ineligibility. It is tightening existing rules to make sure people don’t misuse their visas,” he said, adding: “This is about people entering the United States saying they’ll do one thing and then doing another, such as making misrepresentations to get visas, without proper authorization.”
Those found in violation of what is known as the “90-Day Rule” could be ineligible for a new visa, a renewal or a change of status. Those who continue to remain in the U.S. would be eligible for deportation.
Examples of such misrepresentations include people coming in on visitors’ visas – B1 and B2 – and then immediately beginning to work within the first 90 days. Others who enter on tourist visas and then enroll in a university would also be exhibiting “a clear intent to misrepresent,” according to the State Department.
People entering the country as visitors and getting married within three months would also be considered as intending to fraud the system, said the spokesman, noting that a K1 visa allows U.S. permanent residents or citizens to sponsor one’s fiancé.
“If someone comes to the U.S. as a tourist, falls in love and gets married within 90 days and then applies for a green card, this means the application would be denied,” Diane Rish, associate director of government relations at the American Immigration Lawyers Association, told The New York Times. “This is a significant policy change.”
Those who take up a U.S. residence within 90 days are also in violation of the proviso of their tourist visa, clarified the State Department.
“If an alien violates or engages in conduct inconsistent with his or her nonimmigrant status within 90 days of entry, you may presume that the applicant’s representations about engaging in only status-compliant activity were willful misrepresentations of his or her intention in seeking a visa or entry,” noted the State Department in a cable dispatched to all U.S. embassies abroad.
“If an alien violates or engages in conduct inconsistent with his or her nonimmigrant status more than 90 days after entry into the United States, no presumption of willful misrepresentation arises,” noted the State Department in its memo, clarifying, however, that consular officials who believe the applicant did lie on his application could call for a review.
In related news, India has a particularly high rate of people overstaying a B1/B2 tourist visa, according to data released by the Department of Homeland Security in May. For the fiscal year 2016, more than 1 million tourist visas were granted to people from India. An estimated 17,763 people initially overstayed their visas, with about 15,000 continuing to remain in the country.
In FY 2015, almost 900,000 visas were allotted to visitors from India; more than 14,000 initially overstayed their visas, with an estimated 13,000 continuing to remain in the country.
Germany had the highest number of overstays in FY 2016 – more than 20,000, with more than 14,000 continuing to remain in the country. Italy also ranked high on the number of overstays: almost 15,000 continued to remain in the country after their tourist visa had expired, according to DHS data.