US Spending Millions to Speed up Passport & Visa Processing

On March 23rd, President Joe Biden signed a bill that confirmed his administration is committed to spending 50 million dollars to speed up visa and passport processing. The travel industry has been lobbying for this move for some time. Although the bill doesn’t necessarily stipulate how that 50 million will be allocated, there’s at least hope on the horizon. This was a move that many people desperately wanted to see happen, particularly due to the upcoming soccer World Cup. The tournament is set to take place in the US, Mexico, and Canada in 2026.

While 2026 may seem miles away, the current wait times for US visas indicate that this bill can’t be implemented quickly enough. According to the lobbying group that pushed this bill, the wait time for a US visa for a first-timer is around 400 days. That means anyone who is looking to come to the World Cup and has never had a US visa needs to hurry up! But it’s not just the World Cup that has the travel industry on edge. According to the US travel industry’s main lobbying group, long visa wait times cost the industry 12 billion dollars in 2023 alone.

The most concerning fact of the whole ordeal is that the Federal Government issued a record number of visas in 2023. It’s estimated that it handed out 10.4 million visas for people to visit the country. These numbers clearly indicate that this branch of the government is working at full capacity but simply can’t keep up. Things are set to ramp up for them in the coming year due to the aforementioned soccer tournament.

Despite these efforts to speed up visa processing, people in three countries specifically will have to continue to wait to gain access to the United States. Mexico, Colombia, and India are the three countries submitting the most visa requests to the US State Department. The problem in these countries is that the US embassies are working at full capacity. In Mexico, there is still a massive waiting list to get an appointment at the multiple US embassies within the country.

Unfortunately, this was one of the issues caused by the pandemic era. The embassies remained closed during the lockdown and then operated at a limited capacity for years thereafter. Even now, four years later, it’s been impossible for the embassies to catch up. The bill states that the US State Department will have the final say on the allocation of funds granted by the Federal Government. Although the idea is to improve both visa and passport wait times, if the lobbying group that pushed the bill has its way, the passport issue could be put on the back burner.

This bill hopes to streamline the entire process foreign travelers must go through to get to the United States. One of the biggest reasons it’s urgent to do this is the influx of travelers expected to arrive in the country because of the World Cup. It remains to be seen, though, which foreign nationals will benefit the most from this bill.

Mario Perez

Author: Mario Perez

Bio:

Mario is a seasoned journalist who’s worked with multiple publications over the years. He has a passion for looking for that story within the story itself. When he’s not actively looking for breaking news, he enjoys playing and watching sports.

Leave a Comment