“Ready for Takeoff” outlines a comprehensive plan to grow our share of the travel market by 98 million visitors,
expand U.S. exports by $390 billion, create 1.3 million new jobs and increase economic output by $859 billion.
It all starts with improving our visa process.
What Can You Do?
Learn how you can help implement visa reform
Ready for Takeoff's recommendations:
1. Align visa resources with market demands.
- Prioritize inbound travel to increase economic activity and create jobs by issuing a Presidential
Directive to recapture 17 percent of the global long-haul travel market and match Western
Europe's current market share in Brazil, China and India by 2015.
- Incorporate export growth and competitiveness into the mission and performance measures
at the State Department's Bureau of Consular Affairs.
- Expand the reach of consular services through the use of technology
such as video-conferencing for visa interviews.
- Implement mobile interviews to assist potential visitors in cities with no U.S. consulate.
- Prepare a strategic plan for opening additional visa offices in countries with the greatest
potential demand, notably Brazil, China and India.
- Make online consular services more user-friendly by improving all consular websites,
standardizing websites worldwide and allowing visitors to submit applications in their
- Provide customer service training to consular officers and treat
every visa application as a public diplomacy opportunity.
2. Reduce visa interview wait times to 10 days or fewer.
- Implement a more flexible staffing model to build a corps of “Limited Non-career
Appointment” (LNA) consular officers dedicated to processing visas in high-growth markets.
- Increase staffing to alleviate visa demand pressures; hire 437 additional LNAs by 2015
and dedicate them to fast-growing markets in Brazil, China and India.
- Reassign consular officers from countries currently capable
of meeting traveler demand to high-demand markets.
- Make it more efficient for travelers to renew visas by developing fast track
or easy renewal processes wherever possible.
- Allow existing visa holders, including many business travelers and student and exchange
visitors, to renew visas in the United States instead of returning to their home countries.
- Utilize demand management tools and techniques to analyze and predict
periods of high user demand and lower wait times.
- Improve productivity by dedicating LNA consular officers to processing visa applications;
offer Saturday and extended interview windows to reduce wait times to 10 days;
and employ double shifts to make greater use of existing interview space.
- Incentivize visitors to submit applications during low-peak seasons
by creating tiered-peak and off-peak visa fees.
- Provide an option to expedite visas at a higher cost that is sufficient
to cover expanded visa processing capacity at consular offices.
3. Improve visa planning, measurement and transparency.
- Measure performance relating to visa wait times and processing speeds to better guide
decision-making and resource allocation.
- Conduct annual evaluations based on a consistent set of metrics that indicate the
efficiency, effectiveness and consumer friendliness of the visa application process.
- Improve tracking of applicant backlogs to provide more reliable information
and better understand and manage workload, staffing and throughput requirements.
- End artificial limits on interview dates that mislead visa applicants about actual wait times.
- Make the visa process more transparent by improving information sharing with potential travelers.
- Act on performance reviews in order to set benchmarks and improve performance at consular offices.
4. Expand the Visa Waiver Program.
- Begin formal bilateral VWP negotiations with potentially qualifying nations such as Argentina,
Brazil, Chile, Poland and Taiwan which are interested in, but not yet eligible for, inclusion in the program.
- Use overstay rates, not visa refusals, for VWP qualification as outlined in S. 497/H.R. 959.
- Eliminate “I” visa requirements for journalists from VWP countries traveling to the U.S. for media activities.