Wait times for tourists requesting travel visas to the US has become such a complicated and lengthy process that it seems to be steering visitors away from the States, potentially causing major roadblocks for the travel industry’s continued recovery.
At the US Travel Association’s Future of Travel Mobility conference last month, several panelists criticized wait times of more than 500 days in some markets just to get a visa interview.
Geoff Freeman, CEO of US Travel, said reducing visa wait times is a top priority for US Travel and put it plainly, “The visa wait times right now, to put it frankly, are shameful” continuing to say, “people who want to do nothing other than come here, spend their money and go home with a better impression of the United States, there’s absolutely no excuse for making them wait to these extraordinary lengths to do that.”
Covid is partially to blame for the long wait times, and many embassies and consulates are still facing staffing challenges that began during the pandemic. Freeman said that US Travel has previously pushed for the use of videoconferencing to conduct visa interviews for faster processing and “heard every excuse in the book” for why it won’t work.
Meanwhile, the US State Department is adamant that the situation is actively improving, with an official sharing that “visa processing is rebounding faster than projected.”