Why it matters: Despite declining hospitalizations and infections, increased vaccination rates and immunity and a more robust public health infrastructure to manage the virus, the vast majority of pandemic-driven federal travel policies are still in place. While the public health benefits of these policies have now greatly diminished, the economic consequences continue to grow.
The restoration of international travel continues to be a critical part of a full U.S. economic recovery. For current metrics on international travel, see our monthly data report.
Recent progress: Congress passed the FY 2022 Omnibus—a $1.5 trillion bill—which included key provisions that will help restore international travel, including:
• Brand USA: Provides $250 million in supplemental Brand USA funding, waiving the matching requirement for amounts provided above $50 million.
• H-2B Visas: Authorizes DHS to exempt returning H-2B workers from the statutory cap on H-2B visas.
• Visa Processing: Requires the State Department to create an action plan to address factors contributing to excessive visa application wait times.
• Consular Staffing: Authorizes the State Department to use certain fee income and unspent funds from previous years to restore consular services, including visa interviews.