There are new security procedures in place that could increase the time it takes to get a travel visa. Immigration lawyers are warning those looking to travel to the United States about the possible delays. New vetting procedures will increase the time it takes to get a visa. These procedures could also increase the chance of being denied.
New Vetting Procedures
President Trump is tightening the screws on all forms of immigration as well as visa applications. The new vetting processes include stricter guidelines. U.S. embassies across the globe are no scrutinizing everything from work history to social media. However, these increases in security are currently only being applied to a select few.
The increases in security are mainly in Muslim nations. Even though a court ruling stopped the Muslim “travel ban” executive order earlier this year, the scrutiny for travel visas are tightening. Social media reviews are now the new norm. Previously social media reports were done on a case by case basis.
The new visa vetting policies will continue to change. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has ordered consulates to develop criteria for identifying “applicant populations warranting increased scrutiny.” Until this is complete, consular officers must ask for guidance on people who fit the profile.
Courts Can Only Protect U.S. Soil
While the judicial system fights President Trump at every turn, there is little they can do for visa applicants overseas. The legal system can strike down parts of the travel ban, but they are unable to prevent new rules prohibiting visas in other countries.
The Tillerson cable instructs officials to exhaust all available lead in an investigation into an applicant’s background. In this cable, he said “Consular officers should not hesitate to refuse any case presenting security concerns,” and, “All officers should remember that all visa decisions are national security decisions.”
Opponents of the new administration are worried that the new vetting process will increase visa denials. The President is harping on national security. However, many of these people have reason to visit the U.S. Many of the applicants have family members that are already in the country. These new policies could just add more hoops to jump through for a visa.
Who Will This Affect?
While Tillerson’s cable mentions only one country by name, Iran, there are sure to be others. The new rules do not apply to visa waiver countries. These countries include most of Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan. Opponents see this as a sign of discrimination. Increasing restrictions based on the applicant’s country of origin is a slippery slope. The memo contains no criteria, or whether nationality will be a factor.
Other than what has been mentioned so far we have very limited information. What we do know is that these new policies are sure to add to the backlog of visa applications. The lack of transparency is the most concerning aspect. Applicants don’t know the rules or the changes. Therefore, they don’t know if they will be given a visa.
The new policies seem discriminatory in nature. However, there is little anyone can do. If the President decides to continue with these executive orders, no one can stop him
The Side Effects of Increase Visa Scrutiny
The President has struck fear into the hearts of the American people. Many people think that these rules will simply keep out terrorists. However, this simply isn’t true. The reform will likely affect doctors, professors, students, and researchers the most. Many of these people have legitimate reasons to come to the United States. They often come to learn. Increases in visa scrutiny will mean that these groups of people will no longer be able to come to the U.S. on research and student visas. This is not only bad for the targeted countries, but it is also bad for us. Many of our doctors, researchers, and even billionaires come from other countries. These new rules will make it harder for anyone from a non-visa waiver country to come to the U.S.
It’s Only Getting Worse
There is no end in sight to immigration reform. President Trump ran on campaign promises mostly centered around curbing all forms of immigration. Up until this point, he has done everything in his power to keep them. If you are trying to come to the U.S. or are already here and are trying to stay, you may want to consult an immigration attorney. A lawyer can guide you in the right direction and help you prepare for what is sure to be a difficult battle with the new administration. Pozo Goldstein is a Miami immigration lawyer with decades of experience. Therefore, they can help you with all of your immigration needs.