House Legislation to Prevent ‘China’s Abuses’ of US Visa Programs: Rep. Banks

Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.) is set to introduce new legislation that would require people seeking U.S. visas to declare whether they are a member of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) or other totalitarian parties.

“We all know that China has used our overly lax visa system to export its propaganda and malign influence. Amazingly, many of these CCP agents came here legally and without disclosing their membership,” Banks said, according to a May 12 report from Axios.

He added, “My bill would help law-enforcement track Communist Party activity, and prevent many of China’s abuses before they happen.”

The new bill is named the “Communist Visa Transparency Act of 2022.” Bank currently serves as chairman of the Republican Study Committee, the House’s largest conservative caucus.

If enacted, the secretary of state would be required to make changes to the security and background portion of both the non-immigrant visa application form (DS-160) and the immigrant visa application form (DS-260), according to the bill (pdf).

Two new questions would be added to DS-160, according to the bill. The first would ask visa applicants whether they are “a member of or is affiliated” with a communist or totalitarian party. Additionally, if applicants identify their country of origin as China, they would need to answer whether they are “a member of, employed or funded by, or otherwise affiliated with China’s military, paramilitary, law enforcement, public security, or national security forces.”

The same question on ties to China’s military, paramilitary, and other party apparatus would be added to DS-260, according to the bill.

The communist regime in China has infiltrated many aspects of American society, most notably through grass-roots level “united front” groups and Beijing-funded Confucius Institutes. More seriously is the problem that the United States has been losing its intellectual properties to China as the communist regime undertakes espionage campaigns through Chinese hackers, spies, and employees at American companies and institutions.

One criminal case involved a Chinese woman living in Las Vegas who allegedly exploited the U.S. visa system. Liao Haiyan, a Chinese-born, naturalized U.S. citizen, was charged in January 2021 for allegedly running a scheme to help Chinese nationals fraudulently obtain visitor visas from January 2014 to December 2015.

Liao’s clients paid her thousands of dollars for her services. In return, she helped them to fill out DS-160, with false statements and fake supporting documents.

Banks, who was a state senator before becoming a House lawmaker in 2017, is seeking reelection from Indiana’s 3rd congressional district in the midterm elections. He has been a “prolific critic” of the CCP and has introduced several other bills targeting the communist regime.

In March, Banks introduced the Safeguard Our Universities From Foreign Influence Act (H.R.7150), with a particular focus on foreign adversaries including China. According to a press release from his office, the bill would “strengthen disclosure requirements and enforcement for foreign gifts and contracts at U.S. universities.”

If enacted, the bill would have the U.S. Department of Education set up an office to review foreign contracts and gifts. What’s more, the office would have the power to “block and undo foreign gifts and contracts deemed to compromise U.S. competitiveness or national security.” 

Frank Fang

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Frank Fang is a Taiwan-based journalist. He covers US, China, and Taiwan news. He holds a master’s degree in materials science from Tsinghua University in Taiwan.

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