The Function of Sanctions

economic sanctionInternational affairs is much more complicated than people give it credit for]. Not only are there restrictions and rules every step of the way, there are also sanctions that limit what people from other countries can do.

According to, an immigrant investor or EB5 visa is the absolute minimum requirement before foreign nationals can do any kind of business on American soil. That document by itself already constitutes standards that only a skillful few can meet. These standards, however, become next to impossible if the people applying entry into the country comes from a place with official sanctions on them.

People who are following the standoff over Eastern Ukraine will be familiar with sanctions and their devastating economic effects by now. But, what do these sweeping international orders mean for the average person?

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People misunderstand sanctions as a fight between the governments of different countries. A sanction doesn’t target another country’s government; it targets the businesses. There are three levels of trade sanctions: targeted limited, and comprehensive.

The first level – targeted sanctions – doesn’t necessarily affect the country as a whole because it’s meant to deal with specific industries. For example, the diamond trade is fuelling a slavery mine in a certain country; the US can enact a sanction that targets that country’s diamond industry so that American buyers can’t purchase from them and fuel their operations.

Limited sanctions restrict any kind of import from a certain territory; this is a more general sanction that disallows any contact. The only way American can do business with such places is if they export goods unrelated to financial services to those countries. North Korea is still under the limited sanction category.

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The final level is comprehensive; this means that there are almost no points of contact with that country. No trade, no financial transactions, not even talks or travel to facilitate any kind of connection. Currently, there are three countries under this sanction: Cuba, Iran, and Sudan.

Sanctions are strange things and are more of an indicator of popular perception of current tensions instead of actual business relations.