Millions of tourists say ‘NO’ to USA over long visa delays

Millions of tourists say ‘NO’ to USA over long visa delays
Millions of tourists say ‘NO’ to USA over long visa delays
Avatar of Harry Johnson
Written by Harry Johnson

Unacceptable visa delays are harming the American workforce and it is long past time for the Biden administration to solve the problem.

According to new research released today, the US Department of State’s low prioritization of visitor visa (B-1/B-2) processing is severely hindering the US economic recovery, keeping an estimated 6.6 million potential visitors from traveling to the United States in 2023 at a loss of $11.6 billion in projected spending.

“Outrageous wait times send a message to travelers that the United States is closed for business. Unacceptable visa delays are harming the American workforce and it is long past time for the Biden administration to solve the problem,” commented US Travel Association President and CEO Geoff Freeman.

Wait times for visitor visa interviews now exceed 400 days for first-time applicants from top source markets—an immense deterrent that is undercutting America’s global competitiveness—sending millions of potential visitors and billions in traveler spending to other nations.

The US Department of Commerce’s newly released 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.

The State Department’s lack of urgency on this issue is in direct conflict with the Commerce Department’s objectives.

“Excessive visa delays are essentially a travel ban—no one is going to wait 1-2 years to interview with a US government official to gain permission to visit the United States,” Freeman added.

“Our new research shows that millions of potential visitors will simply choose other destinations—destinations that effectively compete for their business.”

While the US Department of State has made progress in processing other visa categories—such as H-2B and student visas—first-time applicants for visitor visas are neglected by the agency.

It is in the United States’ economic interest for the State Department to accelerate interviews as these visitors account for a significant portion of US travel exports.

Spending losses from just three top markets—Brazil, India and Mexico—could total more than $5 billion in 2023.

New Survey: Millions Will Choose Other Countries

A new survey conducted of likely international travelers in Brazil, India and Mexico (who do not already have a valid US visa) found strong interest in visiting the United States, but the majority said they would likely choose another country to visit if wait times for visa interviews exceeded a year (61% of Brazilians, 66% of Indians and 71% of Mexicans).

In Brazil, India and Mexico alone, the US is losing the ability to compete for:

  • Brazil: 3.6 million visitors and $15.6 billion in spending
  • India: 3.5 million visitors and $13.3 billion in spending
  • Mexico: 7.1 million visitors and $4.1 billion in spending

With a recession looming on the horizon, the United States simply cannot afford to turn away billions of dollars in visitor spending. The Obama Administration effectively addressed a similar problem, and Biden Administration is urged to do the same.

About the author

Avatar of Harry Johnson

Harry Johnson

Harry Johnson has been the assignment editor for eTurboNews for mroe than 20 years. He lives in Honolulu, Hawaii, and is originally from Europe. He enjoys writing and covering the news.

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