US announces easier visa arrangements for foreigners; visa free travel for Taiwan
US President Obama announced yesterday that "America is open for business" and detailed a new approach the country is planning to take in order to make it easier for foreign visitors from certain Countries to travel to the US in an effort to boost tourism and create jobs.
"I want America to be the top tourist destination in the world," said Obama who announced the news at Walt Disney World in Florida, a huge tourist attraction for millions of people each year. "The more folks who visit America, the more Americans we get back to work. It is that simple."
President Obama announced US immigration's plan to reduce the time it takes for travelers from China and Brazil to get visas to the US. The US would also eliminate the need for Taiwanese passport holders to get US visas to visit the country. Currently, citizens of 36 countries including the UK, Australia, and New Zealand enjoy visa-free travel to the US.
"We want to welcome you," Obama said from in front of Disney World's Cinderella Castle. "We've got the best product to sell. I mean, look at where we are. We've got the most entertaining destinations in the world. This is the land of extraordinary natural wonders."
US tourism and business sectors have been pleading with the US Immigration department to ease visa restrictions in order to create more jobs and boost tourism in the US. The White House estimated that more than 1 million US jobs could be created in the next decade if the country increased its share of the international travel market.
"The steps the president took today are significant and will boost travel to and within the United States," said Roger Dow, president of the US Travel Association. "Most importantly, they will lead to new American jobs and get our economy moving."
Specifically, Obama ordered US immigration to increase visas issued to China and Brazil by 40 percent this year. Additionally, in order to streamline all visa applications, Obama said he wanted to ensure that 80 percent of non-immigrant visa applicants from foreign countries are interviewed within three weeks by US consular staff.
US immigration will also create a pilot program that will allow qualified foreign visitors who a pre-screened with their prior visa to renew their visa without undergoing another interview.
This program would streamline visa processing for certain low-risk applicants.
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Changes to application forms
The UKBA has published new versions of the current visa application including Tier 1, Tier 2, Tier 5 and point Based System.