The U.S. immigration system often is not conducive to short visits for tourism, making the U.S. a less than attractive vacation destination for international travelers. The State Department, which administers the processes for getting visitor access to the U.S., must balance concern for national security and visa fraud (i.e., using visitor visas to access the U.S. with no intention of leaving) against the desire to make the process faster and less expensive. The Jobs Originated through Launching Travel Act, or JOLT Act, represents Congress’s attempt to alleviate some of the difficulties associated with obtaining visitor visas for the sake of attracting more foreign visitors (and their money) to the U.S.
HOW THE PROCESS WORKS NOW -
Surprisingly, one of the toughest obstacles to getting a visitor visa is not background screenings or national security watch-lists; instead, it is the ability to satisfy the State Department official reviewing a visitor visa application that the applicant will return to his/her home country once the visa expires. Section 214(b) of the Immigration and Nationality Act requires State Department officials to presume that an applicant intends to immigrate permanently to the U.S. until the applicant provides enough evidence to the contrary, usually through providing evidence of his/her ties to the home country such as employment, ownership of property, involvement in religious or civic organizations, family members in need of care, etc. Not only must an applicant collect all of this documentation in advance of the application process, he/she must appear at a U.S. Consulate for an in-person interview to make the case to defeat this presumption, a requirement that can mean hours of travel time and expense depending on the country in question. Interview appointments are limited, making the wait seem interminable during peak seasons.
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