(KTSF by Sean Au)
In his State of the Union address, President Barack Obama stated that his administration wants to simplify the process for tourists who want to visit the U.S. to spend money, pumping money into the U.S. economy . In keeping with his goal, the U.S State Department announced new procedures today that aim to attract more tourists from China and Brazil, two emerging tourist markets. For example, non-immigrant visa applicants from China need not be interviewed again if their old visas expired less than four years ago. Under the old procedure, only applicants with their visas expired less than a year ago are exempted from the interview process.
Statistics from the State Department shows that in 2010, there were 800,000 tourists from China and they spend an average of $6,000 per person. The tourists injected $5 billion into the U.S. economy.
The U.S. processed over one million non-immigrant visa applications last year, a 34% increase from the year before. 99% were successful . To increase the efficiency of American consulates in China, the State Department will increase visa officials from 100 to 150. The plan is to be able to issue 2.2 million visas in China by 2013.
The State Department emphasizes that the new policy does not affect first time visa applicants.
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