Republicans Propose Legislation to Deny Visas to Those Accused of IP Theft

By IPWatchdog
July 30, 2020

denied - Thom Tillis (R-NC), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Kelly Loeffler (R-GA), and Marco Rubio (R-FL) have introduced a bill titled the Protecting America from Spies Act, which targets individuals who have committed or may in the future commit U.S. intellectual property theft. The legislation comes soon after reports of Chinese and Russian attempts to steal COVID-19 related IP and research in the race to a vaccine to end the pandemic. On July 22, the Department of State ordered the Chinese Consulate in Houston to close, citing evidence of “espionage and intellectual property theft.”

While the closing of the Houston consulate was “an important step,” Cruz said more needs to be done: “For too long China and our competitors have been using non-traditional forms of espionage against our country without any consequences,” he said in a statement.

The bill “would allow the Department of State to deny visas to individuals who have committed acts of espionage or intellectual property theft against the United States.”

Its language would provide broad discretion for denying admission to the United States. Specifically, visas could be denied:

[I]f a consular officer or the Secretary of Homeland Security knows, or has reasonable ground to believe, that the alien—

(i) engages, has engaged, or will engage in any activity—

(I) in violation of any law of the United States relating to espionage or sabotage; or

(II) that would violate any law of the United States relating to espionage or sabotage if the activity occurred in the United States.

Presently, individuals found to have committed IP theft are eligible to reapply for visas. The bill would ensure that any history of such activity would preclude entry into the United States.

According to a press release, the legislation would additionally:

  • Makes spouses and children of aliens engaged in espionage or tech-transfer inadmissible if the activity making them inadmissible occurred within the past five years.
  • Allow the State Department to waive these restrictions if necessary, such as to fulfill U.S. obligations under the UN Headquarters Agreement.

“The active espionage efforts of the Chinese Communist Party to steal intellectual property are unacceptable,” said Senator Tillis in the press release. “This legislation will punish foreign adversaries and deter additional efforts to undermine American leadership through intellectual property theft.”

Representative Vicky Hartzler (R-MO) filed the companion legislation in the House. She said:

It is past time to stop known spies from China coming back into our country. Current laws only allow individuals to be denied entry if the consular officer has knowledge of future espionage plans. Our country needs to be protected so known bad actors are not allowed to steal from us again.


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Discuss this

There are currently 5 Comments comments.

  1. Pro Say July 30, 2020 3:18 pm

    “The bill ‘would allow the Department of State to deny visas to individuals who have committed acts of espionage or intellectual property theft against the United States.'”

    Superb idea and long overdue.

    What our formally-world-innovation-leading Country also needs is a companion bill which would civilly and criminally penalize those domestic companies who have committed acts of intellectual property theft against United States inventors.

    Senators and Congressional member readers:

    Kindly ask yourselves why such theft is wrong when committed by foreigners . . . but is O.K. when committed by U.S. companies.

    Take a look at the calendar hanging there in your office or laying on your desk. That’s right — half the year is gone.

    Our protected-innovation-bleeding Country isn’t really going to enter 2021 without the bill you promised that would return patentability to all areas of innovation, is it?

    Well; is it?

  2. Curious July 30, 2020 3:53 pm

    Merely symbolic and not of real import.

    There are much more important issues that need to be addressed to help IP holders. In a world littered with monsters and dragons that need slaying, they come back with a rabbit pelt.

  3. B July 31, 2020 2:46 pm

    @ Curious “Merely symbolic and not of real import.”

    There are a lot of other things that may be more important, but let’s not ignore something just b/c its not the worst thing on the list. This is obviously a shot at the Chinese government more than IP thieves in general. Personally, I’d like to see an embargo on all Chinese goods made with slave / forced labor.

  4. Sarah August 1, 2020 5:29 am

    What gets me is slave labor is right in front of the US as a huge reason we get back to making most of our own products. the Chinese are charging us huge prices, and the people there are getting shafted just like us while China gets stronger. Why doesn’t the government see just how damaging buying from China really is, and what we have allowed to happen. We are propping up the Communist dreams and control by their government.
    Just like the reason we keep hearing the vote will be rigged. A smoke screen because of New York. Why are people being so foolish to not see both answers are right in front of their faces. And why pray tell has the government not explained China’s end game. It is unbelievable that this is not front and center as an explanation to the people of the US and why we must buy American products before any other. You probably as usual will not post this, and that’s your choice. But if the government won’t teach the people by stating real facts and the way to come back from this mess we are all in on November 3rd, where are the journalists? I feel sorry for all the children who are going to have to pay for the mess we have allowed by not following what we know is the way to beat this Virus and get the country back by making it imperative that buying American is the way to shorten the pain we are in. We are the laughing stock . I heard Merkel had a doctorate. So why wasn’t this reported after she was called stupid, why was that? Don’t journalist become a journalist to get to the bottom of the story and state facts,weeding out the bs? Why did it take till yesterday on Morning Joe before the end game to the election being rigged was his reason for saying so, and it had nothing to do with the mail. Someone even said most people don’t wait till Nov. 3 to mail. And some have already early voted. and saying an absentee ballot and a ballot to be safe, and is also an absentee ballot because they are absent at the polls.

  5. James Fisher August 3, 2020 9:40 am

    This is just rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic without a Section 101 fix to restore patent eligibility to all fields of innovation.