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PRESS STATEMENT
Richard Boucher, Spokesman
Washington, DC
March 30, 2001

New Visa Requirement for Colombians Transiting the United States

Beginning April 2, 2001, all Colombian citizens intending to transit the United States to a third country will be required to present a valid U.S. visa before boarding any U.S. bound flight. Previously, Colombian citizens transiting the United States were allowed to remain in the United States for a short period of time without a visa while en route to the country of destination. Information on the change was posted in the Federal Register today.

The privilege of eligibility for Transit Without Visa (TWOV) has been revoked because of the remarkable increase in the number of Colombian citizens who travel to the United States without a visa and attempt to remain. Many of these people use the stop here to claim asylum during their "transit." The U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) notes that more than 1,000 Colombian citizens have applied for political asylum upon arrival at Miami International Airport while in transit status. Between March 1 to March 22, 506 Colombian citizens transiting the United States have refused to leave, a substantial increase from the 248 in February 2001, and the 29 such incidents that occurred in fiscal year 2000. In the majority of the asylum request cases, the travelers indicated to INS that they never intended to continue to a further destination. Indeed, many of those individuals had previously applied for tourist visas at the U.S. Embassy and had been denied.

As is the case of all non-immigrant visas, prospective applicants for a transit visa need to apply for a visa interview and pay the visa application fee of U.S. $45.00. At the time of the interview, applicants will need to show their tickets or itinerary indicating a final destination in a country other than the United States or Colombia, as well as other documents normally required to demonstrate visa eligibility. Additional information on documents required during a visa interview is available on the U.S. Embassy web site, http://usembassy.state.gov/colombia.

Released on March 30, 2001

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