UPDATE AND CORRECTION!: A reader pointed out to me that I (like the L.A. Times and Daily Mail) read this story wrong: It’s not the Visa Waiver Program, it’s the Visa Waiver Interview Program, which is something completely different.
Thanks to reader Matt over at Miles from Blighty for correcting me:
“The Secretary of State shall immediately suspend the Visa Interview Waiver Program and ensure compliance with section 222 of the INA, which requires that all individuals seeking a nonimmigrant visa, undergo an in-person interview, subject to specific statutory exceptions.”
The program in question is one where certain individuals applying for a visa renewal do not need to appear in person for interview at a US consulate/embassy. This change is being made in order to bring consistency to the visa application process.
This change does *not* affect the Visa Waiver Program, of which ESTA is a component.”
I just read a post by Miles from Blighty that referred to Trump’s executive order on immigration reform, which could potentially force citizens of the EU, UK, Australia, Japan, New Zealand, and Chile to apply for visas (WITH INTERVIEWS) before entering the United States.
Initially it doesn’t sound terrible for us Americans. Why do we care about how hard it is for our ALLIES to enter our country anyway? WRONG! Here are the reasons why this could be potentially disastrous:
1.) If the EU, UK, Australia, or Japan decide to reciprocate these kind of measures, we (Americans) would have to go through the process of getting a visa to visit Europe. I don’t know about you but I do not want to wait a week + processing time to take advantage of a great fare for tomorrow!
Here is the current availability for the German consulate in NYC. Remember this is hardly peak season, so summer wait times will be 10 times this!
2.) Tourism would take a hit on both ends. It would be ignorant to think that European tourism to the U.S won’t take a hit. Many come over here to shop for various items from our retailers.
3.) If Europe doesn’t reciprocate this measure (which they may not since they are SMARTER over there), it will clearly be evident that Trump is taking advantage of Europe’s position. Tourism is a HUGE part of many countries in Europe, and it would certainly hurt jobs in certain regions of Spain.
4.) Let’s not forget that doing interviews for every single person that wants to visit the U.S is an expensive process that requires a tremendous amount of manpower. Is this how he plans on creating jobs?
5.) Oh let’s not forget about those business travelers who travel across the “pond” each week without the hassle of bureaucracy.
Oh you don’t think they will act? Remember that Australia already requires us to apply for an Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) to arrive at its borders. Going farther doesn’t take that much more effort. Not a big deal, but imagine having to find an Australian embassy/consulate that has an interview available. I don’t even know if all the states have consulates at all!
In Summary: Dear Europe, Australia, Japan, and the rest of the world please have mercy on the rest of us, if something like this happens!