U.S. visa wait times now average a staggering 400+ days for first-time visitor visa applicants in the largest countries for inbound travel. This creates a de facto travel ban that hurts potential visitors abroad and businesses here in the United States.

To put this burden into perspective, check out what travelers could do in the time it will take them to get a visa to visit the U.S.:

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  1. Go to Mars…and back: It takes approximately seven months to travel the 300 million miles to Mars. In the time it takes to get a visa interview, a person could travel to the Red Planet and back before they could travel to the United States.

  2. Have a child: A child born on the day a visa request was submitted should be able to stand, walk and say a few simple words by the time the request is completed.

  3. Learn to speak English: It takes about a year to learn English according to tutoring service Education First if one starts as a beginner and trains for five hours a day.

  4. Go from vine to wine: From harvesting the grapes to appearing on a restaurant menu or store shelf, the process of making wine takes about a year.

  5. Earn a degree: With some master’s programs taking as little as a year to complete, serious students could hit the books and earn an advanced degree before getting a visa interview.

  6. Summit the tallest peaks: Climbing the Seven Summits, the tallest mountains on each continent, can be done in a little over a year if you have alpine climbing experience. Mountaineers from Brazil, India and Mexico will have to wait to get a visa to summit the tallest mountain in North America: Denali in Alaska.

  7. Raise the Lombardi Trophy (twice): An NFL team could win back-to-back Super Bowls in the time it takes for some of their international fans to wait for a visa interview. 

  8. Walk around the world, leisurely: Walking around the world at the equator (24,901 miles) at a walking pace of 3 mph would take you 346 days, leaving you with another two months to explore your favorite destinations. 

  9. Get a tech upgrade or two: Apple creates, manufactures and releases a new generation of iPhone each year.

  10. Become a (television) movie star: According to reports, a television movie takes about 122 days to write, shoot and edit. With that timeline, you could be responsible for 3 of the Hallmark Channel’s 40 Countdown to Christmas features.

While there are many productive things one could do in 400 days, U.S. Travel believes a years-long wait for a visitor visa is simply unacceptable. U.S. Travel will continue to elevate the issues surrounding excessive visa wait times with its forthcoming “They Wait, We Lose” activation, launching the week of November 28. This effort will include a custom website, in English and other languages, to capture the perspectives of potential visitors as well as U.S. businesses. It will also be featured on social media across multiple platforms using the hashtag #TheyWaitWeLose.

Please click here to see U.S. Travel’s fact sheet on visitor visa wait times, which includes policy solutions to lower wait times and accelerate processing—so visitors can travel to the U.S. in less time than it would take to go to Mars.


U.S. Travel Association is the national, non-profit organization representing the $1.3 trillion travel industry, an essential contributor to our nation's economy and success. U.S. Travel produces programs and insights and advocates for policies to increase travel to and within the United States. Visit ustravel.org for more information.



Greg Staley

Senior Vice President, Communications

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