United States will stop issuing visas to Eritrean nationals and officials of Cambodia, Sierra Leone and Guinea as of Wednesday because they have refused to take back deported citizens, the State Department said Tuesday.
Under federal law, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson can stop all or specific types of visas from being issued to such nations.
The State Department have been reluctant to impose visa sanctions because affected countries often fight back through reciprocal restrictions on U.S. citizens and officials. The measures have only been imposed twice before, against Guyana and Gambia.
The U.S. Embassy in Eritrea said in a statement that it will stop issuing business and tourism visas to Eritrean nationals, with “limited exceptions.” Eritrean officials were not present for comment.
The East African nation is a major source of migrants who say they are fleeing a system of forced military conscription that repeatedly has been criticized by the United Nations and human rights groups.
In the West African nation of Guinea, a United State. Embassy statement said the new limits on business, tourism and student visas affect only government officials and their immediate family members.
In Sierra Leone, limit on business and tourism visas will affect foreign ministry and immigration officials.
Nationals of Sierra Leone and Guinea had been considered an exception to deportation during the Ebola crisis and its aftermath. That temporary safety status expired in May of this year.
State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert confirmed that the limits have been imposed in all four countries, starting from Wednesday.
Tillerson sent a cable to all embassies on Tuesday ordering the changes.
United State officials first discussed the visa restrictions in August.
The Department of Homeland Security said it had approved the State Department to take action against four nations out of a dozen it considers recalcitrant. Neither department would recognize the nations by name at the time.
It is actually ambiguous why Cambodia, Eritrea and Guinea were added for the penalty also why Sierra Leone, that was least tagged as “at risk” for restraint, was added.
Other countries listed as being cooperating in accepting deportees from the United State.
include China, Cuba, Vietnam, Laos, Iran, Burma, Morocco and South Sudan.