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S. 417: Visa Security Act

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The summary below was written by the Congressional Research Service, which is a nonpartisan division of the Library of Congress, and was published on Feb 24, 2021.

Visa Security Act

This bill limits the validity period of B-1 (business visitor) and B-2 (tourist) visas issued to Chinese nationals until the Department of State makes certain certifications to Congress regarding the Chinese government.

Specifically, the State Department may not issue such a visa with a validity period of more than one year unless it certifies to Congress that the Chinese government has taken certain actions, including (1) stopping its campaign of economic and industrial espionage against the United States; (2) ending its provocative and coercive behavior towards Taiwan; (3) withdrawing its national security law in Hong Kong and upholding its obligations to respect Hong Kong's autonomy; and (4) ending its systematic oppression of minority ethnic groups in China, including the Uyghurs and Tibetans. (Currently, such visas may be valid for up to 10 years.)

These restrictions shall not apply to visa applicants from Taiwan or certain applicants from Hong Kong, generally those Hong Kong residents that the State Department has no reason to believe are acting on behalf of the Chinese government.

(Taiwan is self-governing but the Chinese government considers it a part of China, while Hong Kong is a part of China but is supposed to have a largely separate legal and economic system.)