Biden Lifts Most Visa Sanctions on Laos

On February 7, 2022, the Biden administration lifted a Trump-era immigration ban on Laos. Experts say thousands of Southeast Americans—many of them refugees—and their families may benefit from this move. 

President Donald Trump’s visa sanctions in 2018 were used to pressure Laos to accept a quota of deportees. The ban effectively prevented people in Laos from obtaining any immigration or travel visas, sponsored by their loved ones in the United States.  

In a memo, President Joe Bident wrote that most Lao citizens who have applied, or will apply, for immigration and travel visas will not be subject to the ban. Secretary of State Antony Blinken authorized the move. However, sanctions will still be in place for certain government officials, so long as Laos cooperates with the U.S. demands to accept deportees. Lifting the sanctions could reunite approximately 2,000 people with their family members. 

Forced to flee their home countries in Southeast Asia because of U.S occupation in the 1970s, a significant number of refugees in the United States are from Vietnam, Cambodia, Myanmar (Burma), and Laos. Family-based immigration was one way in which loved ones separated due to war could reunite. Unfortunately, even without bans, many families end up waiting for more than a decade due to the visa backlog to obtain the documents. 

To apply for an immigrant visa, a foreign national seeking to immigrate to the U.S. must be sponsored by a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident immediate relative(s) or a prospective U.S. employer and have an approved petition before applying for an immigrant visa. The sponsor starts the process by filing a petition on behalf of the foreign national with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). 

If you are interested in hiring an experienced immigration lawyer in Phoenix, AZ, call Kanu & Associates, P.C. at (602) 353-7795 or fill out our online contact form to schedule a consultation. Attorney Kanu has more than two decades of legal experience!  

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