The Law Offices of Robert Nadalin

What Is “Rexit”?


As of the date of this writing, Rex Tillerson is the U.S. Secretary of State. It is not yet clear whether he will or will not continue in his current role for much longer. Secretary Tillerson achieved great success in his prior career working as CEO for Exxon Mobil, one of the world’s largest energy companies. His experience working in government has certainly been frustrating for him, as the government must work within legal, process, budget, political, and administrative personnel constraints that are more limiting and quite different than those that apply in the private business sector.

It is understood that behind closed doors Secretary Tillerson and President Trump have both been critical of each other’s efforts to date, and that each may have motivations and reasons for Secretary Tillerson vacating his current office. The anticipated exit of Secretary Tillerson from his current post has been referred to in the media as “Rexit.”

What Is “Visa Stamping?”

“Visa stamping” is the application process through which a foreign national can apply for a passport visa stamp in order to obtain a pre-clearance to come to the U.S. in a specific capacity. That can include a visa to visit for vacation or business purposes, study at a sponsoring institution, or engage in work in the U.S. on behalf of a sponsoring employer. Consular officers frown upon the use of the term “visa stamping” because it may lead applicants to misunderstand the process as one under which the application approval and visa issuance is a foregone conclusion, which it is not. It is important to note that the visa application process can involve extensive background checks, as well as a thorough review of any qualifications for the requested visa category.

For some visa categories, that can even include taking additional steps to question a petition approval from USCIS. Applicants should keep these points in mind in order to adequately plan for contingencies. The visa process an applicant or his friend may have easily completed within a few days last year, may now take 1-2 weeks or possibly longer to complete.

If Secretary Tillerson Vacates His Post As Secretary of State, Who Would Replace Him?

Speculation has focused on Mike Pompeo, the current CIA Director who previously served as a Congressman from Kansas, as a likely replacement for Secretary Tillerson. Mr. Pompeo graduated first in his class at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and also obtained a Harvard law degree. Mr. Pompeo is considered to be a security hawk and firm supporter of the President’s America First policies.

Secretary Tillerson Has Moved To Restructure The State Department In Ways That Some Have Called A “Hollowing Out.” How Has That Affected The Visa Stamp Application Process?

The attempts to restructure the State Department have led to many career officers leaving and has led some commentators to refer to a “hollowing out.” It is clear that the numbers of officers have been reduced, and that many key senior level positions have remained unfilled. Much to their credit, the officers on the front lines have kept the visa application processes moving, but at a slightly slower pace than before. Perhaps less helpfully, they have begun to perform a much deeper review of all applications. That has led to delays for some applicants that can extend well beyond 30 days, and has also led to outright denials for a growing number of applications.

How Would Any Of This Change, For Better Or Worse, Under A New State Department Secretary?

This is not clear. It is possible that much of what has already taken place will stay the same. Processing times and burdensome administrative procedures are not likely to be reduced, but it is possible that they may not grow worse. However, there is a strong fear that a more aggressive America First posture, with an added dose of “national security” concerns, could lead to visa processes that take even longer to complete and which are even more burdensome.

Are There Any Steps That Applicants Can Take Proactively To Avoid Or Mitigate The Risk Of Encountering Visa Application Processing Delays Abroad, Or Even An Outright Denial? 

Visa holders who need to travel for important business and personal reasons should continue to do so. Nonetheless, persons who engage in elective travel for fun or reasons that are not of the highest personal or professional importance, may want to weigh the risks of international travel more carefully before departing the U.S. Persons who already have a valid visa stamp in hand, or who are able to travel to Canada or Mexico on a valid I-94 document under the “automatic visa revalidation” rule {22 CFR Section 41.112(d)} should be able to safely do so. However, persons who will be required to run the “visa stamping” gauntlet prior to being able to return to the U.S. should carefully consider all aspects of that process, and inform managers and supervisors of same, prior to embarking on that process. Unfortunately, the days when a visa applicant could drop off a passport in the morning and pick up a new visa stamp from the consulate the same day in the afternoon have become a well-remembered story of days that have long since passed.

For more information on Rexit & Visa Stamping, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (619) 234-8875 today.

The Law Offices of Robert Nadalin

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