The United States Government has today lifted most sanctions on US visa issuance to citizens of Laos.
According to a notice posted on the US Embassy in Laos website, as of today, the US Government has authorized the lifting of most sanctions on US visa issuance to Lao citizens that had previously been imposed.
The lifting of the sanctions means that citizens of Laos will again be able to travel to the United States for tourism or other purposes.
The notice state that “as a result, the majority of Lao citizens who have applied or will apply for nonimmigrant and immigrant visas to the United States will no longer be subject to INA 243(d) visa sanctions.”
According to the notice, sanctions are to remain in place for certain senior officials of the Government of Laos, pending further cooperation with the United States with respect to accepting Lao nationals designated for removal from the United States.
“We look forward to further cooperation with the Lao PDR government on expediting the removal of Lao PDR nationals under deportation orders from the United States, as is standard under international law,” the notice continues.
According to the Embassy, those applying for a visa to the US should expect delays as the country processes a backlog of visa applications that were previously suspended.
The US Government discontinued issuance of all immigrant and nonimmigrant visas for Lao citizens and nationals applying in Laos on 5 June 2020 pursuant to section 243(d) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).
The Government of Laos responded to the visa restrictions by expressing its profound disappointment and regret.
The surprise move by the United States today, however, starts the year on a new diplomatic footing, and will see many families reunited following years apart.