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Department of State Adopts Stricter Rules for Visas to U.S.

The Department of State (DOS) has adopted new rules to make it more difficult to get visas to the United States. The DOS is giving immigration consular officials new grounds to deny entry to the United States or to remove them if they are already here.

In a cable to American embassies around the world, Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson instructed that visitors who require a visa before entering the United States must then follow through on their stated plans for at least three months. If in that period they do something they failed to mention in an interview with a consular official — such as marry an American citizen, go to school or get a job — it will be presumed that they have deliberately lied. This would make it difficult for one to change their status. Worse, the applicant would be eligible for deportation for fraud and misrepresentation because they used a visitor visa for a different purpose when entering the U.S. This is known as preconceived intent.

Changes of plans that occur after three months may still be problematic but are not presumed to be the result of “willful misrepresentation,” the cable said. Under previous rules, a change in plans was deemed to be misrepresentation only for the first month after arrival in the United States.

“If someone comes to the U.S. as a tourist, falls in love and gets married within 90 days and then applies for a green card, this means the application would be denied,” said Diane Rish, the associate director of government relations at the American Immigration Lawyers Association. “This is a significant policy change.”

The new rules are part of a broad push by the Trump administration to crack down not only on illegal immigration but also to tighten restrictions on legal immigration. Ira Mehlman, a spokesman for the Federation for American Immigration Reform, which generally advocates stricter immigration rules, said his group supported the new rule.“It’s an effort to prevent people from abusing the legal immigration process,” Mr. Mehlman said. “The burden of proof should be on the people who say their plans have changed.


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