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NRF urges Senate to take action on easing Visa requirements

WASHINGTON — The National Retail Federation announced that it has urged the Senate to approve legislation that would help create jobs by making it quicker for citizens of Brazil, China and India to obtain visas needed to travel to the United States on business or to shop in U.S. stores.

“With rapidly growing economies creating a new breed of affluent shoppers in countries like Brazil, China and India, U.S. retailers have grown to highly value foreign tourists in recent years,” NRF SVP government relations David French said. “Unfortunately, tourists from these countries face lengthy delays in obtaining a visa because of security requirements implemented after 9/11. These delays have led legitimate travelers to visit other countries instead of the United States, resulting in a significant drop in the U.S. share of the international travel market.”

French’s comments came in a letter to members of the Senate, which is scheduled to vote on a “minibus” package of bills to fund government agencies. Included is S. 1601, the Department of State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs Appropriations Act, sponsored by Senator Patrick Leahy, D-Vt.

It can currently take as long as 120 days for applicants in China to receive a visa interview and 145 days in Brazil, but the Leahy bill would require visa applications from China, Brazil and India to be processed in no more than 30 days. The State Department would be directed to provide sufficient resources to do so, and to develop a plan to meet demand for visas over the next five years.

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