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U.S. Chamber Calls for Continued Balance in Visa Policies

Wednesday, November 19, 2003 - 7:00pm

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The United States Chamber of Commerce today urged legislators and policymakers to examine recent changes to American visa procedures that may be harming the U.S. economy by interfering with the free movement of legitimate travelers.

"The U.S. has crucial diplomatic, cultural, trade and academic ties with the rest of the world that depend on the ability of people to travel to and from the country," said Randel K. Johnson, Chamber vice president for labor, immigration and employee benefits, in testimony before the House Committee on Small Business. "We must make it a priority to find an equitable balance between keeping our nation safe and not complicating a travel pipeline that yields $70 billion annually to our economy."

Businesses engaged in international exports depend on the ability of foreign customers to enter the United States to cement business agreements, according to the Chamber. U.S. medical facilities, colleges and universities and cultural institutions also depend on the contributions of international professionals.

Recent increases in security clearances of foreign visa applications and required person-to-person interviews have created backlogs and delays for travelers from many countries with which the U.S. has significant business relations, and has significantly impacted businesses competing in international markets. At many U.S. consulates, personnel, technology and facilities are unable to process cases in a timely manner without additional resources.

"Changes to our visa procedures within the last year have strained many international business relationships and have created cost burdens on our economy," said Johnson. "To reverse that trend, we must provide more resources to handle the added screening procedures of our international visitors."

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is the world's largest business federation, representing more than three million businesses of every size, sector and region.

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