UNITED24 - Make a charitable donation in support of Ukraine!

Homeland Security

14 March 2003

U.S. Launches New Web Site on Visa Policy

(Officials say site provides "single point of access" to current
information on visa policies and procedures) (590)
By Anthony Kujawa
Washington File Staff Writer
Washington -- The U.S. State Department officially unveiled the Web
site, "Destination USA: Secure Borders. Open Doors" March 14 in
Washington, launching a public education campaign to better
communicate changes in U.S. visa policies and procedures.
Officials say the Web site serves as a single point of access to U.S.
visa information. With sections titled "Doing Business and Working
Temporarily in the United States," "Studying in the U.S. and Coming on
an Exchange," "Visiting the U.S.," and "Coming Permanently to the
U.S.," it is designed to help users find information about current
visa rules and procedures quickly and easily.
The campaign aims to decrease the confusion and misunderstanding
associated with U.S visa policies that has surfaced in many parts of
the world.
"We want to ensure that the visa application process is
straightforward for people who want to come to the U.S. to study,
visit and conduct business," said Maura Harty, Assistant Secretary for
Consular Affairs at the Department of State.
Heightened concerns about security in the wake of the September 2001
terrorist attacks and a subsequent U.S. government reorganization to
address homeland security have led to changes in the visa policies.
While much of the process remains the same, officials say changes in
visa procedures reflect U.S. "concern for ensuring the safety of U.S.
residents and visitors alike, not to make it more difficult for
legitimate travelers to enter the United States."
A message from U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell states that "The
United States will make sure that our visa system is a strong one, a
secure one, but at the same time, one that encourages people to come
to the United States once we're sure that they are coming here for
legitimate purposes -- business, tourism, education."
"It will require sacrifice, dedication, energy and a great deal of
wisdom to maintain this precious balance between our way of life --
our openness, our freedom -- and the security measures needed to
protect our citizens and visitors to the maximum degree possible,"
Powell said.
Changes implemented after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in
processing nonimmigrant visa applications and in procedures for
non-citizens entering and exiting the U.S. have caused some delays in
visa processing.
If an applicants' name or close variations of the name, for example,
indicate security concerns when run through a database, additional
interviews, fingerprinting or other information may be required.
Officials say these procedures may increase the time needed to process
visas 4 to 6 weeks and occasionally longer.
But they say that improved interagency cooperation and automated
procedures has speeded up the clearance process.
The brochure "Obtaining a U.S. Visa: A step-by-step outline of today's
U.S. visa application procedures," a useful tool to navigate the visa
application process, can also be downloaded from the web site. Soon it
will be available in Spanish, French, Arabic, Russian and Chinese.
Officials say the site will enable people to better understand why
changes in U.S. visa policies have been implemented and guide them
through the application process. "Our [U.S. Government] goal is to
make the visa process not only thorough, but also respectful and
efficient," the Web site says.
The "Destination U.S.A." Web site can be accessed at:  
(The Washington File is a product of the Office of International
Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site:

Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list