Department of States Addresses Increased U.S. Visa Demand

The Department of State recently reported a 17 percent increase in U.S. visas from the previous fiscal year. Throughout fiscal year 2011 more than 7.5 million U.S. visas were issued, with heavy demand from Brazil, China, India, and Mexico. International travel by tourists, businesspeople, and students generated $134 billion in revenue and helped sustain 1.1 million American jobs. With the uptick in demand for U.S. visas, the Department of State is making numerous efforts to improve its efficiency and customer service throughout its 222 embassies and consulates worldwide.

More workers and resources are being allocated to visa adjudication by the Department of State as global travel still remains a vital national economic interest. At busy posts throughout the world, officers can interview 100 visa applicants or more on a daily basis. Sophisticated technologies such as biometric checks are being used to improve security-related measures for screening applicants along with multiple biographic checks. The Department is also increasing visa adjudicators, and targeting new hires that can assist in China and Brazil.

The posts in China and Brazil offer extended hours to conduct additional visa applicant interviews. In the last five years, visas have increased by 234 percent in Brazil and 124 percent in China. China saw an increase of 35 percent in fiscal year 2011 alone, and processed more than 1 million visa applications in just one year.

When there are increased seasonal demands for U.S. visas, the Department of State will add temporary duty officers to manage interviews and processes. Wait times worldwide are typically one week for an interview appointment, and student visa interview appointments at some posts take less than a week and a half.

Interview appointments for business travel can be expedited to make business travel more efficient. The Business Visa Center supports U.S. companies that want to attract foreign workers and clients to visit or attend conventions in the U.S. FY 2011 saw 3,500 requests for business travel to the United States.

Student visa interviews are also prioritized. International students bring economic, social, and intellectual benefits to the U.S. and generate close to $20 billion to the economy on an annual basis.

Stewart Rabinowitz is President of Rabinowitz & Rabinowitz, P.C. Mr. Rabinowitz is Board Certified in Immigration and Nationality Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. To contact a Dallas immigration lawyer or Dallas immigration attorney visit