New DOS Visa Bond Pilot Program for Certain B-1/B-2 Visas
On November 24, 2020, the U.S. Department of State (DOS) published a temporary final rule creating a six-month Pilot Program under which certain applicants for B-1/B-2 visas may be required to post a bond as a condition of visa issuance. This new rule will become effective 30 days after publication, on December 24, 2020.
This Visa Bond Pilot Program will apply only to B-1/B-2 visa applicants who are nationals of listed countries that have overstay rates of 10% or higher in the B-1/B-2 category, as reported in the DHS Fiscal Year 2019 Entry/Exit Overstay Report, and who have been approved by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for an inadmissibility waiver. This means that the initial scope of the Pilot Program will be very limited.
The DOS will be using this Pilot Program to determine whether it is feasible to process visa bonds with DHS assistance and could, therefore, decide to later extend the requirement of a bond to other visa classifications. Under the Pilot Program, the bonds will be posted with U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE), and ICE will collect all bonds and retain all fees in the event of a breach of the bond.
As the Visa Bond Pilot Program applies only to B-1/B-2 visas, the program does not apply to foreign nationals traveling under the Visa Waiver Program with an approved ESTA application.
DOS’s goal is to use this program to deter overstays and to encourage foreign governments to take the actions needed to ensure their nationals timely depart the United States after a temporary visit.
The Visa Bond Pilot Program will run for six months, and during this period, consular officers may require B-1/B-2 visa applicants who fall within the scope of the program to post a bond of $5,000, $10,000 or $15,000 as a condition of visa issuance, depending on the visa applicant’s individual circumstances.
Foster will continue to monitor this new rule and program and will provide additional updates via our firm’s website at www.fosterglobal.com.