The U.S. granted 13 percent fewer visitor visas over the past 12 months, according to State Department data analyzed by POLITICO.
Of the 48 nations analyzed by POLITICO, 37 experienced a decline while only 11 were up from the 2016 monthly average. A State Department official contacted for comment said, “Visa demand is cyclical and affected by various factors at the local and international level.”
The decline comes as the State Department considers whether to heighten its scrutiny of U.S. visa applicants’ social media histories, a move which would affect nearly 15 million people a year. Proposed new rules from the State Department would require visa applicants to disclose details about their Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media accounts, as well as provide telephone numbers, email addresses and travel history for the past five years. They would also have to state whether they have ever been deported from a country and if they have any relatives who have been involved in terrorist activity. According to a Federal Register notice, the State Department is accepting public comments on the proposed rules until May 29, 2018.
Because of the likely negative impact the new rules would have on international travel to the U.S., ASAE is working with the Visit U.S. Coalition to comment before the rules are finalized. The Visit U.S. Coalition was formed earlier this year to advance policy recommendations aimed at reversing the decline in inbound travel to the U.S. Research prepared by the U.S. Travel Association shows that while global travel has increased 7.9 percent from 2015 to 2017, the U.S. market share has fallen from 13.6 percent to 11.9 percent over the same period. That decline in international travel has resulted in a loss of $32.2 billion in visitor spending and 100,000 hospitality jobs.
The Visit U.S. Coalition held a Capitol Hill briefing earlier this week to highlight the economic benefits provided by inbound travel to the U.S. Panelists at the briefing included Roger Dow, president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association; Matt Shay, president and CEO of the National Retail Federation; and Neil Bradley, executive vice president and chief policy officer at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.