19 September 2008

World's busiest airport in Atlanta gets new visa and passport office

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A new office will be opening in Georgia, Atlanta, in less than a month to cope with an increasing demand for visa and passport services, reports Marketwatch.

CIBT is the largest provider of expedited visa and passport services in the US, and will be opening a new office in Georgia to manage the process of American visas and passports. 

"CIBT has built a worldwide reputation for quick turnaround of travel documents, including 24-hour processing in special cases," Jeff Fine, CEO of CIBT, told reporters.

"At the same time, the company has invested in state-of-the-art data systems and procedures to protect confidential client information. In these days of skyrocketing identity theft, passport security is a major concern of international travellers," he added.

In related news, by early next year, the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) will be the mandatory form of identification for travellers to America from those countries who are part of the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). 

The VWP allows citizens and nationals of selected countries to travel to the US for up to 90 days without a visa, provided they are travelling for business or leisure.  Those countries include Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.

Currently, the VWP requires travellers to apply for a paper visa to America.  After 1st August 2008, travellers can apply for the ESTA online. 

ESTA is a web-based program designed to pre-screen travellers for potential threats to American security.  All personal details will be recorded on a system and archived for 12 years.

The Secretary of Homeland Security, Michael Chertoff, will announce when ESTA is to become mandatory for travellers to America, allowing 60 days notice.  This notice is likely to be published in the Federal Register in November 2008.  The paper visa form (I-94W) will then become an invalid process for VWP nationals to obtain a temporary visa for America.  He added, "Once ESTA is mandatory, all travellers from VWP countries will be required to obtain an ESTA approval prior to boarding a carrier to travel by air or sea to the United States under the VWP."


The American Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in American visa and immigration services.

Article by Jessica Bird, American Visa Bureau.


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