Our visa process plays a critical role in advancing economic opportunity and public diplomacy while ensuring our national security and protecting the traveling public. While much progress has been made in reducing wait times to obtain visas, we should always look for opportunities to continue to make the process more efficient and accessible.

Quick Facts

Nearly 38 million overseas travelers visited the U.S. in 2016, spending an average of $4,363 per trip. While many of these travelers arrive from countries participating in the Visa Waiver Program, millions of visitors come from expanding markets such as China, Brazil and India. In fact, between 2013 and 2019 the number of visitors from countries needing visas to come to the U.S. is expected to grow dramatically, including China (171%), Colombia (72%), India (47%) and Brazil (43%).

An important element in welcoming these valuable visitors is our visa process, which protects America and the traveling public. U.S. Travel is continually working with our federal partners to make our visa process more efficient and accessible so America can reap the benefit of these high value travelers who benefit our economy and local communities, and return home with a more favorable view of our country.

J-1 Visa Program

J-1 cultural and work exchange visa programs are critical to filling seasonal positions at many travel and tourism businesses during peak seasons. Often, Americans in communities with ski resorts or national parks, for example, need full-time, year-round work, whereas those on J-1 visas can provide much needed support during high-demand times throughout the year. 

Ending the J-1 cultural and work exchange visa programs would be detrimental to many in the travel and tourism community who would  not be able to serve as many visitors without access to these staffing resources. Visit Americans for Cultural Exchange for more details. 

Recommendations

Set Goals for Visa Processing

With a statutory commitment to faster visa processing worldwide, a climate of certainty would be created for future personal and business travelers, thus ensuring increased and sustained demand for travel to the United States.

Use Secure Technology to Expedite Visa Interviews

Due to the lack of access to a U.S. consulate in geographically-larger countries, the in-person interview requirement remains a major hurdle for many potential visitors in high demand markets. In order to reduce deterrents for potential visitors, the U.S. should use technology to minimize the burden of traveling to obtain an in-person interview.

Protect J-1 Cultural and Work Exchange Visa Programs

Without J-1 cultural and work exchange visa programs, travel and tourism businesses, including attractions, parks and hotels will suffer, because they will not be able to serve as many visitors without access to these staffing resources.

Quick Facts

  • 1.2

    B

    Total number of international travelers in 2016
    The world travel market measured at 1,235 million in 2016; the U.S. was the second-largest destination with 75.6 million international visitations.
  • 37.6

    M

    Number of overseas visitors to the U.S. in 2016
    At 37.6 million, half of total international visitations to the U.S. came from overseas in 2016; the U.K. and Japan were the top overseas inbound travel markets.
  • 74

    %

    Of int’l visitors have a more favorable view of the U.S. after visiting America
    Generally, foreign citizens who have visited the U.S. have a more positive feelings toward the United States compared to those who have not visited the U.S. 

Research, News and Commentary on Visa Reform

Fixing Our Airports, Growing International Travel Are Crucial to Trump’s SOTU Priorities

January 31, 2018

The travel industry welcomes the president’s attention on the crucial topics of infrastructure, trade and national security—and knows exactly how to help him achieve his goals in these areas. 

Read More

Trump’s Davos Opportunity

January 24, 2018

At the World Economic Forum’s annual gathering, POTUS has an excellent platform to tell the world that America is closed to terror, but open for business.

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Visa Waiver Program Issue

Global Allies Recognize Security Benefits of Visa Waiver Program

November 02, 2017

A new report from the London think-tank Chatham House outlines the success of the VWP in facilitating secure travel worldwide in an increasingly volatile global environment. 

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The American flag, DHS flag, and Border Patrol flag flying high in McAllen, Texas.

U.S. Travel Urges Confirmation of Kirstjen Nielsen as Homeland Security Secretary

November 02, 2017

Nielsen’s experience with critical security issues will be key to implementing a balanced approach to travel facilitation. 

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Family at a restaurant

For the Record: Why Reducing Seasonal Work Visas Would Be Terrible for American Jobs

September 26, 2017

"Major reductions" to the J-1 cultural exchange visa program would cripple the travel and tourism businesses, bringing serious harm to local economies.

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CBP officer

How President Trump Can Enhance Security After Global Terror Attacks

September 20, 2017

National security rightfully has the president’s attention, but there’s a better solution available than blanket travel bans. 

Read More
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