The State Department has imposed visa sanctions against Eritrea and three other countries (Guinea, Sierra Leon and Cambodia) for failing to take back deported citizens from the U.S.
The U.S. Embassy in Asmara today announced that it will stop issuing business and tourism visas to citizens, subjects, nationals, and residents of Eritrea, with limited exceptions.
The Embassy statement states that the restriction are in accordance with Section 243(d) of the Immigration and Nationality Act. The visa restrictions, however, do not affect other consular services provided in the Embassy.
Eritrea maintains a policy of voluntary repatriation of its nationals from any country and opposes any forced repatriation or expulsion.
In the West African nation of Guinea, a U.S. Embassy statement said the new restrictions on business, tourism and student visas affect only ‘government officials and immediate family members‘.
In Cambodia, restrictions on business and tourism visas will affect ‘foreign ministry officials‘ with the post of director-general and above, along with their families.
In Sierra Leone, restrictions on business and tourism visas will affect ‘foreign ministry and immigration officials‘. The West African nation is currently recovering from recent mudslides in the capital that killed several hundred people.
Nationals of Sierra Leone and Guinea had been considered an exception to deportation during the Ebola crisis and its aftermath. That temporary protection status expired in May of this year.
U.S. officials first discussed the visa restrictions last month. The Department of Homeland Security said it had recommended the State Department take action against four nations out of a dozen it considers recalcitrant.
The Secretary of State has already ordered consular officers in Eritrea, Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Cambodia to implement visa restrictions effective September 13, 2017.
State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert confirmed the restrictions have been imposed in all four countries.
Other countries listed as being recalcitrant in accepting deportees from the U.S. include China, Cuba, Vietnam, Laos, Iran, Burma, Morocco and South Sudan.
The State Department traditionally has been reluctant to impose visa sanctions because affected countries often retaliate through reciprocal restrictions on U.S. citizens and officials.