State Dept. Releases Fact Sheet on Growing Demand for Visas; Greatest Increase From China, Brazil
In a fact sheet released on October 24, 2011, the Department of State said that demand for U.S. visas is growing, and that the agency is “committed to increasing visa adjudications by one-third in FY 2012 in both China and Brazil, two countries where we have seen the greatest increase in visa demand.” During the past five years, visa issuances have increased 234 percent in Brazil, 124 percent in China, 51 percent in India, and 24 percent in Mexico. In fiscal year 2011, consular officers processed more than one million visas in China, an increase of more than 35 percent over last year.
At the busiest U.S. consular posts, officers may interview more than 100 visa applicants per day. Preliminary numbers indicate that consular officers processed more than 9.6 million visa applications in FY 2011. Of those, the Department issued more than 7.5 million U.S. visas, an increase of more than 17 percent over the previous fiscal year, during which 6.4 million visas were issued. During the past five years, visa issuances have increased 234 percent in Brazil, 124 percent in China, 51 percent in India, and 24 percent in Mexico. In fiscal year 2011, consular officers processed more than one million visas in China, an increase of more than 35 percent over last year.
The Department of State noted that according to Department of Commerce figures, 60 million visitors entered the United States in 2010, and 35 percent of those visitors entered using visas issued by the Department of State. International travel to the United States generated $134 billion in revenue and supported 1.1 million U.S. jobs in 2010, the Department of Commerce reported. The Department of Commerce estimated that the number of potential visitors to the United States will increase six to nine percent annually for the next five years, and could reach 88 million visitors by 2016.
The Department of State said it is adding 98 visa adjudicators this year and next in China and Brazil. A number of these new adjudicators are being hired through a pilot program that targets applicants who already speak Mandarin or Portuguese. The Department expects the first group of these special hires to arrive at posts in China and Brazil in spring 2012. A second group will follow in summer 2012.
Some posts in China and Brazil are operating with extended hours to maximize use of existing facilities. Working bilaterally with host governments, the Department of State is also working to expand and improve visa processing facilities to allow for more applicant interviews.
Wait times for visa appointments can fluctuate significantly depending on seasonal demand, the Department of State noted, adding that “[a]t most posts around the world, visa applicants wait less than one week for an interview appointment. We will continue to send temporary duty officers to manage seasonal spikes in demand.”
Wait times for student visa interview appointments worldwide are less than 15 days, the Department said. Student visa appointments are prioritized “because of the tremendous intellectual, social, and economic benefits foreign students provide to the U.S. economy.” Department of Commerce figures show that international students contributed nearly $20 billion to the U.S. economy during the 2009-2010 academic year, the Department of State noted.
The Department of State said that U.S. embassies and consulates have established procedures to expedite interview appointments for urgent business travel. “U.S. officials work closely with American Chambers of Commerce in more than 100 countries to streamline the visa process for business travelers,” the fact sheet states.
The Department said its Business Visa Center facilitates visa application procedures for U.S. companies and convention organizers who invite employees or current and prospective business clients to the United States. The Center handled nearly 3,500 requests in FY 2011. U.S.-based businesses may e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 202-663-3198 for more information.
The fact sheet, “State Department Supports Global Travel Growth,” is available here at this site.