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Greg Siskind on Immigration Law and Policy

DISCOVER AMERICA PARTNERSHIP CALLS ON STATE DEPARTMENT TO APPLY FEE INCREASE TO IMPROVING PROCESSING TIMES

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The State Department is about to raise fees for processing non-immigrant visas by a third and waits on visa appointments at some consulates are pushing four months. The Discover America Partnership, an advocacy group comprised of many of the nation's leading companies and travel industry leaders, is urging the Department of State to use the money to improve service:



The Discover America Partnership today urged the Department of State (State) to couple its planned visa fee increase with a pledge to reduce wait times for visas, which exceed 115 days in some international locations, to no more than 30 days.  The new visa application fee of $131, up from the current $100, will go into effect on January 1, 2008.  State attributes the additional cost of collecting and reviewing finger scans under the new 10-fingerscan policy as the major reason for the 31 percent increase.



"We understand the Department of State's need to raise fees to cover appropriate costs, but applicants rightfully will demand better service in exchange for higher fees," said Geoff Freeman, Executive Director of the Discover America Partnership.  "State should pledge to improve service and reduce wait times at all consulates with unacceptably chronic delays."



The Discover America Partnership applauds State for visa wait time reductions in India and other locations.  However, wait times remain unnecessarily high in several locations.  In Brazil, wait times hover between 90 and 120 days.  In its "Blueprint to Discover America," the Partnership called on Department of State to provide regular reports to Congress on the steps it is taking to improve visa wait times. 



"In light of the reasonable, but often negatively perceived security policies America is adopting, it is imperative that we also let international travelers know that we want their business," Freeman said.  "America has lost millions of overseas visitors over the past six years.  The Travel Promotion Act, currently under consideration in Congress, is critical to restoring the United States as a premier destination." 



Were a travel promotion program in place today, State would have a ready-made mechanism to explain its increase to an international audience nervous about our security policies.

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Comments

  1. paskal's Avatar

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/12/12/AR2007121202517.html?hpid=topnews

    whether or not you agree with McCain, you have to admire how he stands on his principals instead of pandering to populism. wonder why people don't think that's the quality a good leader must have!
  2. Another Voice's Avatar
    while its understandable for the State department to do what it needs to do to function more efficient and effective, they wonder why people for poor countries choose to immigrate illegally. They would never be able to afford a $100 visa fee or take a chance with that money just to see if they would be able to get it. The flip side of that is that they have to pay smugglers thousands of dollars to sneak the across the border.
  3. Sid's Avatar
    2 Indian PhD students at LSU shot dead -

    http://www.wdsu.com/news/14853139/detail.html
  4. Legal and no longer waiting's Avatar
    http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2007/12/17/071217fa_fact_lizza

    Great article about McCain and other Republican candidates.
  5. Another voice's Avatar
    Excellent article LNLW I like it a lot.
  6. Sue's Avatar
    The Discover America Partnership applauds State for visa wait time reductions in India and other locations. However, wait times remain unnecessarily high in several locations. In Brazil, wait times hover between 90 and 120 days. In its "Blueprint to Discover America," the Partnership called on Department of State to provide regular reports to Congress on the steps it is taking to improve visa wait times.
  7. Deb's Avatar
    Visa fees and wait times?..how about the treatment of visitors?

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/22263392/
  8. 's Avatar
    This is the second such story in as many months. Good to see ICE is cracking down on abuse of the visa waiver program.
  9. Deb's Avatar
    You entirely missed the point. Enforcement and deporting for an offense is understandable. Being treated the way she was?..entirely unnecessary.
  10. USC's Avatar
    "You entirely missed the point. Enforcement and deporting for an offense is understandable"

    Firstly, to place things in perspective here is another link:

    http://www.icelandreview.com/icelandreview/daily_news/?cat_id=16539&ew_0_a_id=295937

    An excerpt:

    "The reason for this ordeal is that Lilliendahl stayed in the US for three weeks beyond her permitted visa stay in 1995. She visited the US again in 1995-1996.

    Lilliendahl said she had therefore not been aware that her violation had been that serious. "I would naturally have taken the necessary precautions [before traveling to the US again] if I had realized that," Lilliendahl said.

    She should have applied for a special visa, according to information from the US Embassy in Reykjav?k."

    INS has apparently created an international incident with even the US Ambassador looking into the matter:

    http://www.icelandreview.com/icelandreview/daily_news/?cat_id=16567&ew_0_a_id=296007

    "Iceland's Foreign Minister Ingibj?rg S?lr?n G?slad?ttir met with the US Ambassador in Iceland Carol van Voorst yesterday..."

    "Last night the US Embassy in Iceland issued a statement saying Lilliendahl's case is being investigated by US Authorities."

    "Being treated the way she was?..entirely unnecessary."

    Absolutely. If we are to remain a civilized nation we have to stop the practise of housing our international guests in the local jail. Those who are not a terrorist threat should be given the option of being housed in an airport hotel (at their own expense) pending the next flight back. Flight risks can be addressed by placing an ankle bracelet monitoring device on the traveller. I might note that the Federal Government endorses the ankle bracelet technology by using it for persons accused of far more serious offenses.
  11. Legal and no longer waiting's Avatar
    Oh, please, three week overstay more than ten years ago is nothing. That's a minor violation that was completely erased by the fact that she left the country (and remember, there were no admissibility bans back in 1995). The US is just slipping into a paranoya, there is no other explanation for this.
  12.       's Avatar
    Shades of gray. In this day and age of shoe and vest bombers, how could the security officials trust she was benign? She had triggered a big red flag after all. So sure, a physical examination would be necessary to rule that out. And not allowing contact with external parties is proper until the authorities confirm she is benign and does not intend to tip off anyone.

    IMO, not providing food and drink is the only thing that could have been done better. On the bright side of things, we all have much better privacy in return for the occasional hiccup such as this case.
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