House Foreign Affairs Hearing Focuses on Visitor Visa Delays

June 8, 2023

The House Foreign Affairs Committee Oversight & Accountability Subcommittee had a discussion about long visitor visa wait times during a hearing about the State Department budget this week.

Despite U.S. borders reopening in November 2021 after pandemic-related restrictions, inbound travel to the U.S. is lagging due to a number of obstacles, including outrageously long visitor visa wait times. The U.S. Travel Association has estimated that low prioritization of visitor visa processing is keeping 6.6 million potential visitors from traveling to the U.S. in 2023 at a cost of $11.6 billion in projected spending.

During the congressional hearing this week, Congressman Michael Waltz (R-FL) said visitor visa delays are drastically impacting attendance at conferences, trade shows and events in his home state and affecting 250,000 jobs. Waltz said visitors from India, in particular, are still facing wait times for visitor visas of up to 600 days.

Travel leaders are pressing the administration to prioritize reducing visitor visa appointment wait times at U.S. embassies and consulates around the world. Vinnie Polito, co-president of the Exhibitions & Conferences Alliance, said, “More than a year and a half after the international travel bans were lifted, unacceptable visa delays are still preventing us from fully welcoming back many international exhibitors and attendees to U.S. trade shows and conferences. This significantly harms our industry’s ability to drive economic growth, support job creation, and empower small businesses nationwide.”

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