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U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Jerry Moran (R-KS) have introduced the bipartisan Visa Processing Improvement Act to address the ongoing delays in processing visas for international visitors and temporary workers, the co-chairs of the Senate Travel and Tourism Caucus announced earlier this month.Currently, the average wait time for an appointment at a U.S. consulate for a visitor visa is over a year.If passed, the legislation would require the State Department to set interview wait time goals and take steps to lower wait times in locations that consistently fail to achieve those goals. It would also provide the State Department with permanent authority to waive in-person interviews for certain previously vetted and low-risk nonimmigrant visa applicants.The Visa Processing Improvement Act also seeks to create a pilot program to test videoconferencing as an alternative to in-person interviews for certain low-risk, pre-vetted visa applicants from Global Entry countries and improve the service nonimmigrant visa processing experience by providing an expedited processing fee and the opportunity to extend visitors visas while in the U.S."International travelers applying for visas are facing unacceptably long wait times, often stretching to a year or longer," said Klobuchar. "Our bill will help address backlogs and get people flying faster by increasing staff and improving service at U.S. consulates and embassies, which will bring more international travelers to attractions, restaurants, and hotels across Minnesota and the entire country."
The U.S. Capitol in the early morning. (Photo Credit: drnadig/E+)
"Ongoing delays in visa processing are negatively impacting businesses, universities and families across Kansas and our country," added Moran. "This straightforward, sensible bill will hold the State Department accountable for the current long wait times required to receive a visitor visa and improve the Visa Processing System for certain applicants.""By modernizing the system while maintaining our national security, we can bolster the economy without compromising our safety."The bill has the support of the travel industry, with U.S. Travel Association executive vice president of public affairs and policy Tori Emerson Barnes stating that "a goal-driven approach and increased accountability from the Biden administration is needed to resolve this persistent issue."
A Maryland native and wanderer who has lived across the U.S. from North Carolina to SoCal, Patrick Clarke graduated from Towson...
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