GBTA Asks Congress To Strengthen National Security and Expand International Travel
The Visa Waiver Program (VWP) permits citizens of 38 countries to travel to the U.S. for business or tourism for stays of up to 90 days without a visa. In return, those 38 countries must permit U.S. citizens and nationals to travel to their countries for a similar length of time without a visa for business or tourism purposes.
The United States welcomed about 20 million VWP travelers in 2014 who spent approximately $84 billion on goods and services. These travelers injected nearly $231 million per day into local economies across the country.
So, what’s the issue? Well, a strong economy is essential to our national security and GBTA is advocating for establishing a process for more qualified countries to join the VWP. Adding additional countries will help the U.S. welcome more international visitors whose spending will grow the economy and create U.S. jobs while also improving national security and diplomacy.
However, one of the misperceptions on this program is that this somehow means open borders or less security. That is entirely false. What this program means is that information is shared between countries about known or suspected terrorists and criminals and allows U.S. inspections of security standards and protocols, among many other strict security standards. Again, safety and security is paramount to the business travel community.
The good news for the business travel industry is that Congress introduced the bi-partisan JOLT Act (known as The Jobs Originated through Launching Travel 2019). The legislation will do the following: 1.)require diplomatic and consular missions to conduct nonimmigrant visa application interviews quickly; 2.) develop and conduct a pilot program for processing visas using secure remote videoconferencing technology for conducting visa interviews; and 3.) seek to coordinate the involvement and interviewing processes for enrollment in the Global Entry Program. Plus, the Act also renames the Visa Waiver Program to the more accurate description of Secure Travel Partnership.