The newest industry to push Congress for changes to the country’s visa processing policies might be a surprise. It is the tourism industry.
The International Tourism Facilitation Act was introduced by Senators Amy Klobuchar, D. Minn., and Roy Blunt, R. Mo., in October to make it easier for people to visit the United States from around the world.
Klobuchar and Blunt pushed the proposal as a potential economic lift for the country. About 10 percent of all the jobs created so far this year in the United States were tourism jobs, according to a press release from Klobuchar’s Senate office. Each visitor from overseas spent about $4,000 in this country in 2010.
The bill’s goal is to cut long wait times at consulates and American embassies around the world that can prevent people from visiting the United States. The bill also would give the State Department incentives to make the changes.
“By streamlining our visa processing system without jeopardizing our nation’s security, we can help spur economic development and job creation,” Blunt said in a release.
The U.S. Travel Association was quick to support the proposed bill. “International business and leisure travelers stimulate our economy, and the ‘International Tourism Facilitation Act’ is the legislation our country needs to create U.S. jobs and to improve our visa process,” said Roger Dow, president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association in a release.
The USTA also said the State Department simply cannot meet its own goals for timely processing of applications in some markets. Provisions in the bill would allow the State Department to reinvest application fees on infrastructure to meet growing demand.
Travelers discouraged by visa wait times will take their dollars elsewhere around the world. The Boston Globe reported in November that the 10-year change in long-haul arrivals in the United States had remained an almost-flat two percent while the numbers in China and India jumped 126 percent and 124 percent respectfully.
These visas are not just necessary for people wanting to see the Grand Canyon or a Dodgers game, many of the people in line for these visas want to visit their children in grad school or network with professionals at a business conference. Even though these types of visitors will not choose another country to visit instead, they would likely come more often if it was made simpler for them.
The USTA even put together a website with clever graphics, videos and cartoons to help illustrate the need for visa reform: www.smartervisapolicy.org.
An attorney with visa application experience can help get clients through the process so their family can come visit for business or pleasure.
A. Banerjee is a Houston immigration lawyer in Texas. Before selecting an immigration lawyer in Houston Texas, contact the Law Offices of Annie Banerjee by visiting their information filled web site at http://www.visatous.com.