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December 08, 2004

Visa Headaches Costing US Businesses Billions

Trying to get your overseas customers entry into US? You’re going to have to wait. Congress has been unable to speed up the application process and US businesses will continue to suffer as a result. Kiplinger reports that US companies have suffered $30 billion in financial impact between July 2002 and March 2004 due to visa problems.

Trade shows have lost major support over the past few years from international participants. The Consumer Electronics Association, which sponsors the International Consumer Electronics Show, surveyed international members who missed this year’s show in Las Vegas. Of respondents, 59% indicated that they had encountered problems in the visa application process, and 18% cited these difficulties as the main reason they weren't able to attend.

The Santangelo Group produced a study on the effects of visa delays and came up with some startling results. According to the report, the cumulative cost of delays and denials in processing business visas between July 2002 and March 2004 was $30.7 billion in lost revenues for U.S. companies. The survey also found that 60% of companies surveyed reported they had suffered "material impact as a result of visa delays. Half the respondents reported that the problems had even worsened since 2002.

These statistics cannot factor in the number of foreigners who did not even bother to apply for a visa because of the new hassle involved. Business people from China, the US’ fastest growing export market, have reported the largest number of difficulties.

Companies suggestions for overcoming these losses include: publishing clearer and more concise visa instructions, ensure communication transparency among US agencies, add more resources for security review and extend visa duration to reduce the number of applications. The companies also urged for a "gold card" provision that gives companies with recurring long-established visitors favored status with the visa applications.

Congress has increased the number of business visas available for the 2005 fiscal year by 20,000. Though this will help, the impact will be nominal. Last year’s limit was met by the first day applications were made available.

Posted by Chris H. Anderson at 08:27 AM in International Trade | Permalink


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