Today, U.S. Senator Herb Kohl sent a letter to Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke, urging them to implement policies aimed at decreasing wait times to obtain business visas. Senator Kohl has heard concerns from local Wisconsin businesses including Oshkosh Corporation, DealerFire, and Hughes Company and has worked to resolve visa delays for these companies on a case-by-case basis.
Wisconsin manufacturers have expressed growing concern that visa processing delays hinder their ability to do business with international customers. These companies manufacture and sell complex machinery -- bringing business into the American economy -- but when foreign buyers apply for short-term business visas to come to the United States for training on how to use this machinery, they can face delays of more than 90 days.
"I am concerned about delays in visa processing that hinder the global competitiveness of American businesses. I have heard from several Wisconsin businesses that these delays make it harder to sell their products internationally and create jobs here at home," Kohl said in the letter.
In March, during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, Senator Kohl asked Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano to explain what steps the Department of Homeland Security is taking to decrease wait times for Business Visitor Visas (B-1 visas). Napolitano expressed a desire to work with the State Department and the Department of Commerce to shorten visa times to meet the current demands.
In the letter, Kohl asked the three administration officials for answers to the following questions:
1. Which five U.S. embassies have the largest number of B-1 visa applications that have been pending for over 90 days
2. What are the most common reasons for a B-1 visa applications to be delayed over 90 days?
"I recognize that this is a difficult problem, and there are important security requirements that must be maintained. We need solutions that make the visa process more efficient and understandable for applicants while continuing to protect our homeland security," Kohl said in the letter.