U.S. Travel Applauds State Department Response to Increased Visa Demand
Visa Processing Up 17 Percent From 2010
November 7, 2011
Washington, DC - The U.S. Travel Association today applauded recent initiatives announced by the Department of State in response to a backlog in processing of U.S. visas.
“As the U.S. seeks to regain the historic 17 percent share of the world travel market it had in 2000, the U.S. visa system must evolve with innovative solutions and new resources,” said Roger Dow, president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association. “We greatly appreciate the attention Secretary Clinton and Deputy Secretary Nides have given to improving the U.S. visa process, and our industry looks forward to working together to develop and implement systemic and long-term visa processing improvements across all high-growth travel markets that, at the same time, maximize security.”
Of the 9.6 million visa applications in fiscal year 2011, 7.5 million U.S. visas were issued, an increase of more than 17 percent over 2010. Increased demand continues to come from some of the world’s fastest-growing economies. Over the last five years, visa issuances have increased 234 percent in Brazil, 124 percent in China, 51 percent in India, and 24 percent in Mexico. The State Department is adding staff and expanding facilities to meet demand increases of 30-40 percent in China and Brazil, while working to decrease the amount of time business and leisure travelers must wait for required interview appointments.
“The travel industry congratulates the consular officers who processed more than one million visas in China alone for fiscal year 2011, an increase of more than 35 percent over last year,” said Dow. “Spending an average of $6,243 while in the U.S., each Chinese traveler is a walking stimulus package who helps to create additional U.S. jobs.” In response to growing demand, the State Department has undertaken several steps, including dedicating more personnel and resources toward visa adjudication.
Among the Department’s recent initiatives are:
• Announcing the addition of 98 visa adjudicators over the next year in China and Brazil, some of whom are being hired through an innovative pilot program that will allow personnel to stay in each country for up to five years. The first group is expected to arrive at posts in China and Brazil by spring 2012;
• Supplementing the additional 98 visa adjudicators, State will send temporary duty officers to manage seasonal spikes in visa demand;
• Extending visa interview hours in China and Brazil; and
• Expanding visa-processing facilities to allow for greater capacity for applicant interviews.
In May 2011, the U.S. Travel Association released a comprehensive report of the U.S. visa system. The report studied the effects of the visa system on international travel to the U.S. and made a number of recommendations for improvement.
“With travel to the U.S. projected to increase six to nine percent annually for the next five years by the Department of Commerce, and with the launch of the Corporation for Travel Promotion, a public-private marketing entity created for the purpose of encouraging travelers from all over the world to visit the U.S., the work of the State Department to improve the U.S. visa system is critical to additional U.S. jobs and our economic recovery,” said Dow.
Cathy Keefe 202-408-2183
The U.S. Travel Association is the national, non-profit organization representing all components of the travel industry that generates $1.8 trillion in economic output and supports 14.1 million jobs. U.S. Travel's mission is to increase travel to and within the United States.