Mon07232018

LAST_UPDATEMon, 23 Jul 2018 8pm

US Slaps Visa Sanctions On Myanmar Officials

NAY PYI DAW -- The United States (US) has restricted visas for some Myanmar government officials for their lack of cooperation in accepting Myanmar citizens deported by them, reported the Myanmar Times, an English-language newspaper.

The Department of Homeland Security’s announcement on Tuesday targets officials of the ministries of Labour, Immigration and Population, and Home Affairs.

The ban is also effective on the officials’ immediate family members, including spouses and children under the age of 21, with limited exceptions.

On Monday, the US embassy in Yangon stopped issuing visas to Myanmar officials at the director general level from the two ministries.

“If you are one of the people subject to visa suspension and you apply anyway, we will interview you but will not be able to issue a visa until the suspension is lifted. Please consider carefully before you apply,” said a statement released by the embassy.

The US accused the Myanmar government of denying or unreasonably delaying the acceptance of Myanmar citizens deported by the US.

Under Section 243(d) of the Immigration and Nationality Act of the US, if countries refuse to take back their nationals deported by the US government, the secretary of state must order consular officers to suspend issuing visas until informed by the secretary of homeland security.

Before making the decision, the department said it made efforts to encourage the countries to accept their citizens, which included “diplomatic communications at the highest level of government.”

The State Department may change the covered visa applicants or visa categories at any time. Visa suspensions may include any category of visa or visa applicants, as determined by the department.

The ban would not have any effect on ordinary tourists planning to visit the US, said New Motion Travel and Tours managing director, U Htike Lun Maung.

‘’Myanmar travellers can apply for US visas as usual as ordinary people are not affected. However, since April, the fee for a one-year multiple-entry visa has doubled from US$200 (283,000 kyat) to $400,’’ he said.

Laos is also on the US visa sanctions list.

-- BERNAMA