Increasing foreign tourism to the U.S. and improving the customer experience at the airport are two policies that support pilot jobs and a healthy U.S. airline industry. The U.S. travel and tourism industry also represents 2.7 percent of GDP and approximately 7.5 million U.S. jobs. China and Brazil are growth markets for foreign travel, but cumbersome visa procedures in those countries often serve as a deterrent to travelers interested in visiting the U.S. In recognition of these issues, the Administration announced a plan in January to increase nonimmigrant secure visa processing capacity in China and Brazil by 40 percent in 2012 and to reduce prohibitive wait times for visa interviews.
In a progress report released today, the Administration announced that it has met its goal for increased capacity in Brazil, and will meet its goal for China by the end of the year. Additionally, the State Department is now interviewing 85 percent of applicants worldwide within three weeks of their applications, compared with 57 percent in July 2011. Membership in Trusted Traveler programs is also expanding, which allows eligible customers to receive expedited screening and processing at the airport, reducing wait times and allowing for a better allocation of security resources.
The Administration’s progress is a good first step. ALPA also proposes a thorough GAO study and report to Congress on recommendations from government agencies on additional effective, expedient, and cost-efficient ways to increase the number of visas that can be issued to potential travelers from China. You can read more about our policy proposals on this subject here.