New measures proposed by the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which seek to restrict US visa access for foreign journalists, have been blasted by the Russian embassy in America. The Trump administration sought to tighten US visa access for foreign journalists amid an ongoing tit-for-tat spat with China.
A statement from the Russian embassy in the United States said: “The measures proposed by the US Department of Homeland Security on tightening visa issuance procedures for foreign journalists are the unjustified complication of bureaucratic procedures and the creation of artificial barriers for their normal work.”
In particular, the embassy bemoaned proposals that will reduce US visa validity for foreign media employees to 240 days, arguing that this is not enough time for journalists to consistently cover local events.
Leaving the United States
Under the new proposals, Russian diplomats argue that ‘journalists will have to leave the United States for a considerable amount of time in order to obtain a new US visa.’
The Russian embassy said: “The novelties proposed by the DHS in order to revise ‘I’ visa issuance procedures significantly complicate the professional duties of foreign journalists in the United States.”
Russian diplomats also argued that the proposals would violate free speech and deny equal access to information.
The embassy’s statement said: “The unjustified complication of bureaucratic procedures and the creation of artificial barriers for the normal work of foreign journalists do not correspond with the concepts of freedom of speech and equal access to information.”
“The reasons for implementation of such decisions are also not clear, which makes it impossible to assess their practical significance,” the statement added.
US reporters affected
The Russian embassy claims that visa restrictions imposed on foreign journalists in the US will have an adverse effect on American reporters based overseas. Diplomats said: “Based on the principle of reciprocity in international relations, the measures proposed by the DHS could negatively affect the work of American reporters abroad.”
“Russia proceeds from the premise that the existing rules providing for the possibility for media representatives to carry out their professional activities after the expiration of ‘I’ visas (until leaving the United States) are in the best interests of all parties involved,” diplomats added.
Coming down hard
Back in September, the DHS filed proposed rule changes that sought to restrict the length of stay in the US for foreign journalists, international students and overseas nationals participating in exchange programs.
The proposal was open to discussion, but no official date was given for the rule changes to come into effect. In a DHS statement, the agency said: “The rule changes are needed to reduce fraud and boost US national security.”
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