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US Tourist Visas are now free according to the US Department of State

Posted on October 13, 2014
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Tourist or Business Visas, also called B1 and B2 Visas to the United States are now free. This was confirmed to eTN by a spokesperson for the US State Department of State.

Here is the scenario: A family of 4 applies for a US visa at a US consulate to visit New York for 3 days.

The cost for the tour package is $699.00 including return flights, hotel accommodation and transfers from and to the airport. Sounds good?

Well, in addition this family has to apply for a US visa, pay $165.00 x 4 = $780.00 in visa fees and has to take a day out of their schedule, buy a train or bus ticket to visit the closest city with a US consulate. American consulates don’t rely on electronic means like SKYPE, but mandatory personal interviews are required.

The $699.00 now doesn’t sound that good anymore, does it? New York now competing with visa free cities like Hong Kong, Paris, or Johannesburg – this family may think twice before contributing to the biggest export and job creator in the United States- the travel and tourism industry.

New York is New York, so this family decided to do it anyway. After waiting for several weeks for their visa appointment they finally received their interview date. Excited to see Times Square and the Statue of Liberty they got their extensive paperwork ready to travel to their capital city for their personal visa interview in the American consulate.

After 7 hours on an overnight train, they found themselves waiting in a long line at the US consulate door.

The consulate security officer pointed them to a number of private storage services in front of the consulate building, because no purses or handbags were allowed into the building. Storage fees were high ? comparable to what it would cost to store a large suitcase at a local train station, but of course they did not want to get back at the end of the line now surrounding the consulate building.

Finally this family made it to the bulletproof window confronting the US Visa officer, ready to get this now well deserved and expensive visa stamp, so they could travel to Manhattan.

It took 15 seconds and a stamp ?and the visa for this family was denied – without reason. What about the $780.00 in fees, the train ticket for 4, loss of work, and the storage fee ? – it was all gone.

Does this sound like a bad joke, extortion or scam? No it?s a reality for thousands of ?wanting to go? visitors to the Land of the Free.

When eTN asked about the non-refundable visa fees at a press conference at the World Travel and Tourism Council summit (WTTC) in Lima, Peru last month?, here was the response from people who should know:

Chris Thompson, President & CEO of Brand USA, the new national identity for the United States to promote tourism to the nation. He said: ?”Brand USA promotes travel to the United States. We don?t lobby for political changes, and we don?t handle visas. I cannot comment on this question.”

This response was even more surprising, since at the same event Chris Thompson pointed out Brand USA’s effort to help and facilitated visa waiver status for more and more countries.

Isabell Hill, the Director National Travel and Tourism Office had an even shorter response to eTN. She said: “I am with the US Department of Commerce promoting Tourism Export. I did not know about this issue, but will refer you to the State Department.”

eTN caught up with the State Department and here is the good news related to eTurboNews officially by the media spokesperson for the department. “The United States Department of State does not charge fees for visas.” Is this good news?

Not really. In her second sentence the official acknowledged that there was however a non-refundable administration fee of $165.00 for each visa application and it needs to be paid by every foreign applicant each time this person applies for US visa.

Earlier in Lime Isabell Hill and Chris Thompson said there may be more visa application places opened in more cities to get more foreign visitors to the country.

They pointed out this was possible due to the fees charged and the revenue generated by such administration fees.

It sounds like a great business for the government to be in, but it may be a little short-sighted.

Losing tax revenue, revenue otherwise generated by hotels, airlines, rental cars or cruises from visitors not spending money in the US, but only at US consulates ?- is this really the solution?

Wouldn’t it make the US not such a welcoming nation after all but put the travel and tourism business more in the category of extortion and fraud?

Perhaps it’s not relevant after hearing about the record numbers of visitors to the land of the free.

For more news and updates, assistance with your visa needs or for a Free Assessment of your profile for Immigration or Work Visa’s just visit www.y-axis.com

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