The topic of visa-free travel leapt into the spotlight earlier this year when U.S. President Donald Trump signed executive orders attempting to bar travelers from seven Muslim-majority nations. Now there’s one persistent rumor about visa-free travel to the U.S. that just keeps popping up. One website has set about trying to convince people that Trump signed an order granting Pakistanis visa-free travel to the U.S., but beware.
We’ve looked into the matter, and it’s fake news.
Trump said to be allowing visa-free travel for Pakistanis
USA Television has apparently been trying to convince everything that Trump, out of the goodness of his heart, has decided to grant all Pakistani nationals visa-free travel to the U.S. According to the website, he signed an executive order to change the visa policy specifically for Pakistani nationals. It claims that the order allows them to stay in the U.S. for up to 180 days for either business or tourism purposes. Any stay over 180 days requires a visa, according to the website.
It claims that the measure was enacted to boost trade between Pakistan and the U.S. Additionally, it says that Pakistanis who have dual citizenship will still be barred from entry to the U.S. if they are also a citizen of the seven Muslim-majority nations that were targeted in the original executive order.
Pakistan and the Muslim ban list
Trump initially tried to keep citizens of Iraq, Iran, Syria, Sudan, Somalia, Libya and Yemen out of the U.S. via an executive order that was signed in his first days in office, but the courts blocked the order. After that first order, there was debate about whether Pakistan would be added to the list, given that its population is mostly Muslim.
There are several reasons why it was unlikely that Pakistan would be added to Trump’s so-called “Muslim ban list.” However, it’s just as unlikely that the President would throw the doors wide open by allowing visa-free travel for Pakistanis or citizens of any other country, for that matter.
Why the visa-free travel news is fake
While spending some time researching the question of visa-free travel for Pakistanis to the U.S., one of the first stops was a virtual visit to Snopes, the website that has earned a strong reputation for correcting misinformation and debunking urban legends. Truly, an article on Snopes is one of the first signs that you have successfully convinced a multitude of people that something is true, and there happens to be one regarding this visa-free travel issue.
Snopes puts the fault of this fake news squarely on the shoulders of the folks running the USA Television site. According to Snopes, USA Television grabbed hold of the controversy that erupted after Trump signed the first executive order attempting to bar citizens of Iraq, Iran, Syria, Sudan, Somalia, Libya and Yemen from entering the U.S.
Blanket visa-free travel for the whole world to the U.S.??
Since early this year, the fake news site has written many fake news articles about Trump supposedly signing an order granting visa-free travel for people from various nations, including Pakistan. These articles are almost identical, and when taken together, they have the President letting travelers from a long list of countries into the U.S. without a visa.
Among the nations on the list are Pakistan, Botswana, Belarus, Ghana, Ethiopia, Jamaica, Haiti, Kenya, Malawi, Papua New Guinea, South Africa, Mauritius, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Uganda, Tanzania, Ukraine, Macau, Liberia, Zimbabwe, Zambia, and all of the countries in the Caribbean. The website even claims that Russians can enter the U.S. without a visa. Given the controversy regarding Russia and the allegations of election interference, that could be viewed in one of two ways — if it were true.
U.S. Embassies combat the fake news stories
Apparently other fake news sites joined in on the fun by adding even more countries to this long list created by USA Television. Thinking about this logically and also in light of the kind of president Trump is turning out to be, it should be clear that all of this is absolute nonsense.
However, the issue has become so widespread that U.S. Embassies in some nations, like Peru, have felt the need to comment on the fake visa-free travel news. You can also see many more comments from other U.S. Embassies in other countries at the Snopes link here.
The real list of countries whose citizens are allowed to travel to the U.S. without a visa is actually very short and can be found here at the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs. Most of the countries that actually participate in the Visa Waiver Program with the U.S. are in Europe, although there are a few others that are included, and Pakistan is not one of them.