14 August 2006

US Visa restrictions hampering trade exports

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United States business leaders have expressed concern that post September 11 visa restrictions are harming overseas exports and costing American jobs.

A report in the Rockford Register details how almost of the business people from Shanghai, China, who had planned to attend the Association for Manufacturing Technology (AMT) trade show in Chicago next month were denied U.S. visas, more than double the rejection rate in 2004 when the association held its last event.

“The last thing you think they would be doing is keeping Chinese buyers out of the United States,” AMT vice-president Paul Freedenberg told the paper, who has lodged a complaint with the State Department.

Besides the visa rejections, a post-Sept. 11 mandate stating that visa applicants be interviewed in person at an overseas U.S. consulates has dramatically lengthened the wait time for visas, with the result being that potential importers of American goods turn elsewhere rather than contend with delays that can last over three months.

According to a a 2004 study by the National Foreign Trade Council, U.S. companies lost $25.5 billion in revenue in a two-year period ending March 2004 because of business visa delays and denials.

Another exporter, American Exrusion, claims it has lost around $1 million in foreign sales due to the visa problem, counting at least 15 incidents when foreign executives were denied the opportunity to vist the company and see their food processing machines in action.

The State Department has taken several steps to respond to business complaints about visa delays. This includes expanding the number of consulates that move business travelers to the front of the line for visas and has added 500 consular officers, an increase of at least 20 percent, around the world.

For business entry to the United States, the American Visa Bureau can assist with your visa. More information on business visas is available here.

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