State Department confirms authority to discontinue issuing visas to citizens of sanctioned countries

The State Department issued a final rule in April that confirms that consular officers have the option to “discontinue granting” nonimmigrant and immigrant visas to citizens of countries sanctioned for refusing to accept or delaying repatriation of their citizens who face final orders of removal in the U.S.

The State Department described the rule as “guidance” to consular officers and noted that section 243(d) of the Immigration and Nationality Act already allowed consular officers to deny visa issuance to citizens of sanctioned countries. While not revolutionary in that sense, this provision has never been utilized to discontinue visa issuance to citizens of a sanctioned country across the board prior to applications even being submitted. Many commentators are now wondering if that is the president’s plan.