“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?

TAKE ACTION: Visit our Smarter Visa Policy Now Action Hub

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
    native languages.
  • 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.