Wisconsin Department of Commerce Newsletter
September 2003
Business Visa Issues for Your Foreign Customers and Business Contacts

In the aftermath of the September 11, 2001, attack on the World Trade Center, the U.S. government has increased the scrutiny applied to visa applications. It is important that potential business travelers submit their applications well in advance of their desired visits. While 10 days may have been a typical wait in the past, several months is not unusual now. Visa officers at U.S. embassies abroad are referring more applications to the FBI and CIA for in-depth reviews.

U.S. visa officials are required by law to presume that every visitor visa applicant intends to stay in the United States. Therefore, business visa applicants must demonstrate that their business trips will be for a limited period; that they have funds to cover expenses in the United States; and that there are compelling social and economic ties abroad which will ensure their return home at the end of the visit.

An applicant for visa should normally apply at the American Embassy or Consulate with jurisdiction over their place of permanent residence. Each applicant for a visa must submit paperwork with a 2"x2" photo and pay a non-refundable $100 visa-application processing fee. A supplemental application detailing a visitor's travel plans is required for all male applicants between 16-45 years of age. A passport valid for at least six months beyond the applicant's intended period of stay in the United States is also needed. If the passport is recently issued, applicants should bring their expired passports to any interview.

Many countries practice a policy of reciprocity regarding visas. Since the U. S. has made it more difficult to obtain a visa to come to this country, the requirements for Americans to travel to some other countries are also being increased. Foreign travelers who are citizens from 27 eligible countries (Western Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and Singapore) may be able to visit the U.S. without a visa on the Visa Waiver Program.

More information on business visas is available from the U.S. State Department at: http://travel.state.gov/visa;visitors.html.

--Stanley Pfrang

The newsletter is issued electronically every other month.

Please send comments or questions to Barbro McGinn, editor.

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