The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has recently announced that it had decided to implement visa sanctions on two Southeast Asian countries, Myanmar (Burma) and Laos, as a result of lack of collaboration of the latter countries in taking back the citizens who have been ordered to leave the US. The measure has been taken in coordination with the State Department.
The US Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen M. Nielsen notified Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on the changes, and ordered the consular officers in Myanmar and Laos to implement visa restrictions on certain categories of visa applicants.
According to a press release of the Department of Homeland Security the US Embassy in Vientiane, Laos and that in Rangoon, Myanmar, have discontinued the issuance of all B1 and B2 nonimmigrant visas for current officials at the Director General level and above, from the Burmese Ministries of Labor, Immigration and Population and the Lao Ministry of Public Security as well as their immediate family members. The US Embassy in Laos has also discontinued the A3 and G5 nonimmigrant visas to individuals employed by Lao government officials, with limited exceptions.
“The decision to sanction a recalcitrant country is not taken lightly. DHS makes significant efforts, in collaboration with the State Department, to encourage countries to accept the prompt, lawful return of their nationals who are subject to removal from the United States,” the DHS statement reads, adding among others that these efforts include diplomatic communications at the highest level of government.
Both countries, Myanmar and Laos, are on the recalcitrant country list of the US, in which are listed nine countries that are refusing to take back their citizens that the US has ordered removed. Cambodia, Eritrea, Guinea, and Sierra Leone are part of the list as well, which Trump administration sanctioned after the four of them refused to comply with the deportation policy.
The Department of State has the right to change the covered visa applicants or visa categories at any time and visa suspensions may include any visa applicants or visa categories, as their officials see it as reasonable and necessary.