Roundtable Weekly
Trump Administration Proposes Increased Vetting of Foreign Tourists; Visit U.S. Coalition Encourages International Travel as Key to Domestic Growth
April 13, 2018

The State Department recently announced a proposal to require visa applicants to provide further extensive information on their social media presence, email addresses, and work histories when applying to travel to America.  Inbound tourists, business and convention travelers, students, and other non-immigrants would be subject to such “extreme vetting” policies proposed by the Trump Administration, along with immigrants seeking permanent U.S. residency.    

The Visit U.S. Coalition released “ America is Open for Business ,” a video highlighting international travel as a key driver of the health of America’s economy.

This newly proposed screening requirements would have affected nearly 15 million travelers last year alone from key long-haul markets such as China, India, Mexico and other nations that do not participate in the visa waiver program (VWP) with the U.S.  ( Visit U.S. Coalition, April 11.)  The new proposal would not affect travelers from countries granted visa-free travel status to the U.S. including most of Europe, Canada, Australia and Japan.

Under the proposed new requirements, U.S. visa applicants would be required to submit five years’ worth of personal information regarding telephone numbers, email addresses and details about their social media accounts on platforms such as Facebook and Twitter.  Fifteen years’ worth of physical address, employment, and foreign travel history would also be required.  (See State Department Form 5535.)  Currently, such information is only requested on a case-by-case basis when particular visa applications are flagged to warrant additional scrutiny due to terrorism or national security-related concerns.  The new proposal would require the additional information as a matter of course to supplement the already-exhaustive online visa form that tourists and other non-immigrants must currently submit when seeking U.S. entry.

“We should be encouraging international tourism and promoting policies that not only make the visa system more secure and accessible, but also streamline the process,” said Jeffrey D. DeBoer, President and CEO of The Real Estate Roundtable. “Increasing inbound international travel to the U.S. helps power the commercial real estate industry here at home through spending at hospitality, retail, attraction, health, and investment properties – all of which generate revenues to boost overall economic growth and create American jobs.”

Last month, the multi-industry Visit U.S. Coalition (which includes The Roundtable) released its policy agendaaimed at promoting and increasing inbound international travel to the United States. The coalition advocates for policies to regain the nation’s lost share of the global travel market by 2020, which will result in 88 million international visitors who directly support 1.3 million U.S. jobs and spend 294 billion dollars in travel exports – crucial to achieving the Administration’s economic goals. (Roundtable Weekly, March 2)

Following the State Department’s announcement of further intense screening for foreign inbound travelers, on Wednesday the Visit U.S. Coalition released “America is Open for Business,” a video highlighting international travel as a key driver of the health of America’s economy.

The State Department will be accepting public comments on the proposed enhanced vetting requirements until May 29.