Amid Worsening Economic Outlook, Excessive Visa Wait Times Deter Visitors to the U.S.

 Thursday, December 1, 2022 


U.S. Travel Association’s biannual travel forecast shows a significant downgrade in international inbound travel for the rest of 2022 and 2023—a worrying trend caused by economic concerns and exacerbated by excessive wait times for first-time visa applicants. Potential visitors from top source markets—including Brazil, India and Mexico—currently confront 400-800-day wait times to meet with U.S. Consular officials.

“While economic concerns are natural, excessive visitor visa wait times are a manmade obstacle that the Biden administration seemingly refuses to address,” said U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Geoff Freeman. “Reducing visitor visa wait times in top inbound markets will drive visitation and help protect the American economy.”

Tourism Economics in June estimated that international visitation volume would end the year at 67% of pre-pandemic (2019) levels and 82% in 2023. That forecast has been downgraded to just 63% of pre-pandemic volume for 2022 and 75% for 2023. This reflects an additional loss of 8 million visitors and $28 billion in spending over those two years. International inbound travel is not projected to fully recover to pre-pandemic levels until 2025.

Interview wait times for first-time visitor visa applicants exceed an average of 400 days in the top 10 source markets for travel to the United States, and wait times in key international markets such as Brazil, India and Mexico have worsened in recent months.

Excessive wait times severely undercut America’s global competitiveness and the Biden administration’s national goal for inbound visitation. The U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Travel and Tourism Strategy identifies inbound travel as an economic priority and sets a national goal of welcoming 90 million international visitors by 2027, while State Department processing for this visa class in top markets is not meeting demand.

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