US: Department of Homeland Security imposes visa sanctions on Burundi

US: Department of Homeland Security imposes visa sanctions on Burundi


The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in partnership with the Department of Statue has imposed visa sanctions on Burundi due to their failure to accept their citizens ordered to be removed from the US.

What has changed?

The Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf has notified Secretary of state Michael Pompeo that the Government of Burundi has denied or unreasonably delayed accepting their citizens who have been ordered to be removed from the United States.

Consequently, consular officers have been instructed by Secretary of State Pompeo to implement visa restrictions on certain visa categories. The restrictions will remain in place until the cooperation for removals has improved to an acceptable level as per the Secretary of Homeland Security.

Prior to a sanction such as this being implemented by the DHS, diplomatic discussions take place in an attempt to encourage countries to accept the timely and lawful return of their citizens who are subject to removal from the United States. Although the visa sanctions have been introduced, the U.S. Government advises it remains open to working with the Government of Burundi to facilitate the departure of Burundian nationals that are subject to the removal orders.

Acting Secretary Chad F. Wolf has stated that “This announcement is about ensuring the safety of the American people and upholding the rule of law. Given that Burundi has failed to cooperate with the United States on these serious matters of immigration and public safety, we have no choice but to impose sanctions.” The major concern is that individuals with final orders of removal (including those determined to pose a threat to the community), cannot be detained beyond a 6-month period. Therefore, by delaying or refusing to issue travel documents (such as passports) for their citizens within an appropriate time frame, the Burundi Government forces the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to release potentially dangerous criminals back into US society. Without appropriate travel documents to confirm identity and nationality, ICE is unable to complete the necessary removal process.

Who is affected?

Specific sanctions effective June 12, 2020 are listed below:

As of June 12, 2020, the U.S. Embassy in Bujumbura, Burundi has discontinued issuance of all nonimmigrant visas (NIVs) for Burundian citizens and nationals applying in Burundi except for A1, A2, C2, G1, G2, G3, G4, NATO1, NATO2, NATO3, NATO4, NATO5, and NATO6 visas, and other whose travel is covered by Section 11 of the U.N. Headquarters Agreement, subject to limited exceptions.

For further information on US visa sanctions on Burundi, please contact the Sterling Lexicon immigration team at 

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Leanne Cottrell
Leanne Cottrell

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