Update: The LA Times story that spread around the world turns out to be #FakeNews or at least inaccurate. The draft executive order would end the he Visa Waiver Interview Program that deals with visa renewals and not the Visa Waiver Program.
The Los Angeles Times is reporting on a draft executive order that would suspend the US Visa Waiver program.
- Citizens of 38 countries apply online for entry to the US for up to 90 days
- The ESTA is in lieu of a formal visa, which requires an interview
- Suspending this program would require visitors to the US to obtain the formal visa instead, scheduling US embassy interviews
To be clear, this is a draft executive order not something that has been signed. The final form of the order could be substantially different. But it at a minimum reflects at least some of the thinking within the current US administration.
As the LA Times reports,
It would suspend the visa waiver program — widely used by citizens from 38 countries, including most European countries, Australia, Japan and Chile — which grants citizens of those countries a 90-day tourist visa after they submit their biographical information to a screening check. The new policy would require in-person interviews for most citizens from those countries.
The draft order states,
The Secretary of State shall immediately suspend the Visa Interview Waiver Program and ensure compliance with section 222 of the INA (Immigration and Nationality Act), which requires that all individuals seeking a nonimmigrant visa, undergo an in-person interview, subject to specific statutory exceptions
The affected countries are:
Interestingly, Taiwan is considered a separate country for the purposes of the Visa Waiver Program despite the US One China Policy.
Under the proposed rules, Norwegians, Brits, and Aussies will have to schedule and attend interviews before being permitted to come to the US. That would be the case for vacation, and for business. That’s sure to limit the amount of international business US companies can do, and limit the goods US companies can sell abroad. In addition to being simply ludicrous.
Even these draft rules are already getting media attention in Australia.
The suggestion alone can share off visitors, who face an opaque process and merely have the sense that it’s overly burdensome and costly to come to the US for leisure or to do great business deals (the best deals). A big beautiful wall between the US and Australia will harm airlines, hotels here in the US, airport revenue and of course US attractions that rely on tourists generally.
Who’s going to come to America under these terms?
My guess however is that this proposal will not happen. I suspect it was leaked by someone who thinks that the idea is insane and wants to ensure backlash with enough time that the administration can dismiss it as merely a suggestion that had been under discussion or a draft by a low level staffer.
It also could be an initial gambit to make any final move look moderate by comparison, or to show deliberation on restrictions that aren’t limited to specific religions.
However I also did not predict the outcome of the Presidential election, so evaluate such a prediction as you will.