As part of the continuing trade and intellectual property war with China, the U.S. Department of State has implemented a new policy to limit visa validity periods and impose additional security clearances before visa issuance to citizens of the People’s Republic of China. The specifics of this new policy are still unclear, but are expected to provide guidance to U.S. consular officers to limit the validity period of visas for Chinese students in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) degree fields. Additional security clearances are also expected for Chinese citizens applying for visas to serve as researchers or managers for companies in the United States that are on the U.S. Department of Commerce’s list of companies that merit additional scrutiny. Typically, these additional security clearances take a few weeks to a few months, depending on the nature of the clearance and other agencies involved in the clearance process. This most recent move is derived from the administration’s December 2017 National Security Strategy, which highlighted the illegal transfer of intellectual property to competitors. Official guidance from the State Department was reportedly sent to U.S. embassies and consulates for implementation starting June 11, 2018. Mintz Levin will update the details of this guidance as it becomes available. As of this writing, the visa application process in China has not changed, and visa applicants should continue to follow instructions on the U.S. Embassy & Consulates in China website, which can be found here: https://china.usembassy-china.org.cn/visas/nonimmigrant-visas/.
William L. Coffman focuses on immigration and nationality law at Mintz. He represents clients on immigration matters before the US Citizenship and Immigration Services, the Department of Labor, and US and foreign consulates.