Terror attack leads to Trump demand for tougher visa entry for the US

by Ray Clancy on November 2, 2017

Getting a visa to live and work in the United States is set to get harder as President Donald Trump has already ordered an end to the diversity visa stream following the terrorist attack in New York.

Trump announced that he wants to end the diversity visa lottery programme that amounts to around 50,000 visas to applicants from countries where there is a low rate of immigration to the US.

(Sangoiri/Bigstock.com)

His call came after it was revealed that the terrorist Sayfullo Saipov, who killed eight people and injured 15 others when he drove a pickup truck down a cycle path in the city, had come to the US from Uzbekistan on a diversity visa.

‘I am starting the process of terminating the diversity lottery programme. I am going to ask Congress to immediately initiate work to get rid of this programme. Diversity lottery, diversity lottery. Sounds nice, it is not nice, it is not good. It hasn’t been good and we have been against it,’ he said.

‘We’re going to quickly as possible get rid of chain migration and move to a merit based system,’ he added. He also indicated that he wants to end what is known as chain migration that allows entry to family members.

The diversity visa has been controversial for years. It was originally introduces in 1990 to diversify the pool of immigrants to the US, offering immigrants green cards, permanent legal residence and a path to citizenship.

The diversity programme has been very popular with official figures showing that over a million people applied for a visa this way in 2016. Applicants must have a high school diploma or meet work experience requirements.

It is thought that Trump might also look at the H-1B work visa programme that allows skilled foreigners to work in the US when sponsored by an employer.

Although the visa stream is nominally for those undertaking temporary work, in practice H-1B holders often end up applying for green cards and staying in the US permanently and it is regarded as the nation’s most important route for skilled immigration which is regularly oversubscribed.

There are already signs that immigration officials have been getting tougher on these kind of visas. For example, there have been 45% more challenges to H-1B visa requests so far this year than in 2016. Businesses seeking to sponsor an applicant are also being asked for more information.

A tougher stance is likely to hit applicants from Asia who make up the largest group of new immigrants in the US. There is anecdotal evidence that Asians are not renewing their visas and fewer are considering working in the US.

Trump has long maintained that immigration policies are linked to crime and terrorism. Courts have continually blocked his plans to introduce travel bans on citizens from a number of countries, mostly Muslim nations.

He believes that existing vetting procedures are insufficient although Uzbekistan, where Saipov came from, is not one of the countries involved in the travel bans.

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