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Published on : Thursday, July 20, 2017
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: