The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will halt tourist and visitor visas for Burma and Laos government officials and their families after the two countries failed to take back their deported nationals.
In an announcement by DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, agency officials said B1 and B2 visas — for tourists and business travelers — will be discontinued for Burmese and Lao government officials and their families until the two countries begin accepting their deported nationals from the United States.
“The decision to sanction a recalcitrant country is not taken lightly,” officials said in a statement.
“Burma and Laos have not established repeatable processes for issuing travel documents to their nationals ordered removed from the United States,” agency officials continued. “For this reason, [the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency] has been required to release Burmese and Lao nationals into the United States, some with serious criminal convictions.”
The ban of Burmese and Lao government officials traveling to the U.S. on tourist and visitor visas is effective immediately, DHS confirmed. The visa sanctions will be kept in place until the State Department is notified that the two countries have started cooperating in accepting their deported nationals back from the U.S.
Similar visa sanctions are on Cambodia, Eritrea, Guinea, and Sierra Leone for their noncooperation in accepting their deported nationals.