Warning of the “economic ramifications” of the "significant policy change," 20 trade associations have asked the Trump administration to reconsider an executive order likely to lengthen the period international visitors must wait for visas to visit the U.S.
The June 21 executive order effectively reversed a 2012 policy mandating that 80 percent of nonimmigrant visa applicants be interviewed within three weeks of submitting an application. U.S. Travel praised the move at the time as a near-certain boost to U.S. economic and jobs growth.
But in a July 17 letter to President Trump, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, U.S. Travel and 19 other trade groups said the progress resulting from the 2012 visa policy risks coming undone.
"It is important to maintain these improvements because visa processing delays have a direct economic impact on the United States and American jobs," the letter reads. "In 2016, the U.S. travel industry generated $2.3 trillion in economic output, supporting 15.3 million jobs and $248.2 billion in wages. Approximately 2.7 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP) is attributed to travel and tourism, with 1 out of 9 jobs depending on the travel and tourism industry."
The letter further notes: "We strongly support thorough efforts to ensure international visitors are not entering the U.S. with the intent to overstay their visas, or to commit acts of terrorism or other crimes. We also support a world class and efficient visa process that effectively and securely manages the millions of visa applications submitted each year. After years of needless visa backlogs, the State Department has made great progress, reducing inefficiencies to decrease wait times to manageable levels."
The list of organizations that signed the letter includes:
- U.S. Travel Association
- American Bus Association
- American Gaming Association
- American Hotel & Lodging Association
- American Society of Association Executives
- American Society of Travel Agents
- Business Travel Coalition
- Events Industry Council
- International Association of Exhibitions and Events
- International Franchise Association
- International Inbound Travel Association
- Meetings Professionals International (MPI)
- National Association of Black Hotel Owners, Operators & Developers
- National Retail Federation
- National Tour Association
- Professional Convention Management Association
- Society of Independent Show Organizers
- Student & Youth Travel Association (SYTA)
- U.S. Chamber of Commerce
- United States Tour Operators Association
Read the full letter here.
The U.S. Travel Association is the national, non-profit organization representing all components of the travel industry that generates $2.4 trillion in economic output and supports 15.6 million jobs. U.S. Travel's mission is to increase travel to and within the United States. Visit www.ustravel.org.