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President Issues Executive Order to Improve Visitor Visa Processing

On January 19, 2012, President Obama issued an executive order establishing visitor visa processing goals and a Task Force on Travel and Competitiveness. The goal is to promote travel and tourism which will, in turn, create jobs and stimulate economic growth in the U.S. The travel and tourism industry ranks as one of our country’s leading service sectors and sources of exports, but the U.S. market share in this lucrative industry has dropped from 17 percent to 11 percent over the last 10 years. The decline is a result of a combination of factors, including greater international competition, changes in global development, and stricter security measures folllwing 9/11.

The new executive order seeks to improve current visitor visa processing by implementing the following goals:

(i) increase nonimmigrant visa processing capacity in China and Brazil by 40 percent over the coming year;

(ii) ensure that 80 percent of nonimmigrant visa applicants are interviewed within 3 weeks of receipt of application, recognizing that resource and security considerations and the need to ensure provision of consular services to U.S. citizens may dictate specific exceptions;

(iii) increase efforts to expand the Visa Waiver Program and travel by nationals of Visa Waiver Program participants; and

(iv) expand reciprocal recognition programs for expedited travel, such as the Global Entry program.

To view President Obama’s executive order in full, see http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2012/01/19/executive-order-establishing-visa-and-foreign-visitor-processing-goals-a