In a bid to make the US more welcoming to international visitors, the US Travel Association has announced plans to reform the country’s visa policies.
The body has released a new report criticising the “antiquated” visa system, which it says often forces travellers to head elsewhere. Currently, certain countries – including the UK, New Zealand, France, Ireland and Australia – are included in the official US Visa Waiver Program, which entitles nationals of those countries to enter the US without a visa for a short-term stay. They do, however, still need to apply for trip approval through the online Electronic System for Travel Authorisation.
The proposals suggested by the association include expanding the Visa Waiver Programme to encompass more countries, alongside reducing the waiting times for visas to be received.
The plans, if successful, would also lead to the creation of a whopping 1.3 million jobs across the US, as the visa workforce was expanded to assist in the processing. A reformed visa process could also add £527.1 billion to the US economy by 2020, thanks to the rising number of visitors flocking into the country.
The US Travel Association’s president and chief executive, Roger Dow, said, “As a nation, we’re putting up a ‘keep out’ sign.
“The United States imposes unnecessary barriers on international visitors, and that inhibits our economic growth. If we institute a smarter visa policy, we can create 1.3 million US jobs,” he added.
Read Cheapflights’ guide to Guide to getting into the United States.