If you thought going through the process of securing the United States Visa was difficult before, what with the visa fee and the lines at the embassy, the procedure has been made much more difficult now. The US has listed Pakistan among countries sanctioned under a State Department rule governing the refusal to process visas. The listing could result in the withholding of visas to Pakistanis, beginning with senior government officials.

The sanctions on Islamabad is as a result of Pakistan reportedly being among the countries with citizens over-staying in the US past their visa expiration. This is a move to pressure Pakistan to accept more of its citizen deportees and visa-overstayers, as well as to reduce immigration into the United States.

How effective is this step on part of the US in countering visa-overstays? By all reports, it seems more like a perfunctory power move that is typical of the Trump administration rather than meaningful immigration reform. The fact of the matter is that these sanctions on embassies in third-world brown countries, such as Pakistan or Chad, won’t be effective since the majority of visa over-stays in the US are not from these countries. The ratio of deportees via nationality might be higher but the statistics point to the majority of visa over-stayers being from predominately white Western countries. Canada, for example, had 96,911 people overstay their B1/B2 visa, the highest number of overstays. The move thus seems unfairly targeted against people of colour rather than as a means to improve the immigration and tourism system.

In all likelihood, this step by the US won’t pressure or put the Pakistani government into a dilemma as much as it will trouble Pakistani citizens going to the United States for tourism purposes. This confrontational style of diplomacy is of no use to anyone.