Comments by Sanwar Ali:
We understand that the visa changes are relating to permanent immigrant visas. The greatest concern for Chinese citizens is likely to be the wait time for Green Card applications which can be many years under the quota system. This is the main thing that will no doubt put off many Chinese people from applying. It remains to be seen how many people will be affected by the additional restrictions on members of the Chinese Communist Party applying.
If Biden wins the presidential elections, policy towards China may not change that much. However, if there is greater availability of Green Cards under the quota system under Biden, this may help Chinese nationals. It should be noted that US Presidents frequently have difficulty making major changes to the US visa system.
Amid ongoing tensions between Washington and Beijing, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced that Chinese Communist Party (CCP) members will be banned from obtaining immigration to the US. New policy guidance was passed by Congress to ‘tackle threats to the safety and security of the US.’
The new guidance states: “Anyone who is or has been a member of or affiliated with a Communist or totalitarian party cannot immigrate to America.” It’s understood that the policy forms part of a wider series of laws approved by Congress.
In a statement, which did not explicitly name the CCP, USCIS said: “Membership in or affiliation with a Communist Party or any other totalitarian party is inconsistent and incompatible with the Naturalisation Oath of Allegiance to the United States of America, which includes pledging to ‘support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States’.”
Mounting tensions between China and the US
The latest US visa and immigration restrictions imposed on Chinese nationals come amid mounting tensions between China and the United States. Coronavirus stricken President, Donald Trump, recently attempted to block Chinese-owned apps including TikTok and WeChat, citing ‘security concerns.’
China has further slammed the US for imposing, what it described as, ‘barbarous and rude’ sanctions on Hong Kong officials following China’s enactment of controversial national security legislation on the so-called Administrative Region.
According to Statista, a Germany-based database company, the CCP had approximately 91 million members in 2019. Two million of them were reportedly college students.
Exemption for involuntary membership of Chinese communist party
The USCIS policy guidance does include an exemption for involuntary membership of the CCP, such as those who became members while under the age of 16 or those joining in order to secure employment, food rations or other basics for living.
The exemption further includes people who have terminated their CCP membership or affiliation at least two years prior to their US Green Card application.
Non-US citizens who were members of, or connected with a party that leads a totalitarian dictatorship, must sever ties with the group at least five years before making a US immigration application.
Under the exemptions, it is the responsibility of US consular offices to determine if an individual is a threat to US national security. ‘At their discretion, the attorney general may waive the rules if an applicant is a close relative of a US citizen or relocating on humanitarian grounds,’ USCIS policy guidance states.
More talent remains in China
While the restrictions have drawn heavy criticism from Beijing, editor-in-chief of Chinese state tabloid The Global Times, Hu Xijin, said the move would ‘help China retain talent within its borders.’
Xijin posted on Twitter: “The decision by the US helps keep more talents in China since it takes out their illusion. Not bad. What’s more, non-CPC [Communist Party of China] members now have much less interest in immigrating to the US.”
China mocks Trump COVID-19 diagnosis
Amid the ongoing spat between China and the US, Trump’s recent coronavirus diagnosis was mocked by Xijin, who said that Trump and First Lady Melania, have ‘paid the price for downplaying the pandemic.’
He said: “The diagnosis of the US President and FLOTUS reveals the severity of the COVID-19 outbreak in the US and it will sabotage his re-election campaign.”
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