Retailers Push for Faster Visa Process

Representatives of the National Retail Federation will meet with officials at the U.S. Embassy in China to discuss strategies for speeding up visa applications, the Financial Times recently reported.

The NRF – a lobbying group whose board includes executives from Macy’s, Neiman Marcus, Guitar Center and PetSmart – wants the U.S. government to expedite business and travel visas for Chinese applicants, saying tourism spending will stimulate the U.S. economy while employment visas are necessary to bring managers of Chinese retail stores to the United States for training, according to the Financial Times.

David French, senior vice president for government relations at NRF, told the source an administrative logjam has been created by a surge in U.S. visa applications this year, as the number of Chinese travelers to the United States rose 48 percent from 2010.

However, the visa process is also snarled by the requirement that all U.S. visa applicants go through an interview process, which is not part of the visa application process for many other countries, the newspaper reported.

U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar, Democrat from Minnesota, recently co-sponsored a bill to streamline the travel visa application process. A news release from her office stated it can take Brazilians 150 days to obtain a U.S. visa, whereas they can secure a U.K. visa in about 12 days.