The U.S. declares visa policy “to support Bangladesh’s goal of holding” fair elections

The Department of State of the United States of America has announced a new visa policy to promote free, fair, and peaceful national elections in Bangladesh on May 24, 2023.

An official statement by Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken says: ‘Today, I am announcing a new visa policy under Section 212(a)(3)(C) (“3C”) of the Immigration and Nationality Act to support Bangladesh’s goal of holding free, fair, and peaceful national elections.’

‘Under this policy, the United States will be able to restrict the issuance of visas for any Bangladeshi individual, believed to be responsible for, or complicit in, undermining the democratic election process in Bangladesh,’ the statement added.

The list of individuals includes “current and former Bangladeshi officials, members of pro-government and opposition political parties, and members of law enforcement, the judiciary, and security services.”

Secretary of State Blinken also shared the information on his official Twitter handle. He said, ‘Today, I announced a new visa policy to promote free and fair elections. Under this policy, we can impose visa restrictions on individuals and their immediate family members if they are responsible for, or complicit in, undermining the democratic election process in Bangladesh.’

The specific section of the United States Immigration and Nationality Act mentioned in the statement of Secretary of State Blinken deals with persons whose presence could have severe adverse foreign policy effects for the United States. The section reads, ‘An alien whose entry or proposed activities in the United States the Secretary of State has reasonable ground to believe would have potentially serious adverse foreign policy consequences for the United States is inadmissible.’

The statement also claimed that the United States notified the Bangladeshi government of this decision on May 3, 2023. This is to note that the U.S. Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, Victoria Nuland met Bangladeshi Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen on that day in Washington, DC.

In the meeting, Under Secretary Nuland reiterated the importance of free and fair elections and the USA’s commitment to promoting human rights, labor rights, and freedom of expression in Bangladesh.