April 18, 2024 8:44 PM
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ECA Applauds Additional Department of State Funding to Reduce Visa Wait Times

submitted by Tommy Goodwin, Exhibitions & Conferences Alliance

WASHINGTON, DC—The Exhibitions & Conferences Alliance (ECA), the unified advocacy voice of the business events industry, applauds the inclusion of supplemental funding for the U.S. Department of State to reduce visa wait times as part of a six-bill package of fiscal year 2024 government funding bills.

The legislation provides the U.S. Department of State $50 million in dedicated funds to reduce visa wait times and passport backlogs. ECA believes that this investment is critical to further decreasing the long visa wait times that have harmed American workers and businesses since 2021, including those in the business events industry.

“International exhibitors and attendees face significant financial outlays months in advance of participating in conferences and trade shows. As a result, the U.S. market effectively remains closed to many of our key customers,” said Hervé Sedky, Emerald Holding Inc. President and Chief Executive Officer and Chair of the ECA board of directors. “Securing this funding marks an important step in reopening our doors and bringing all of our international stakeholders back to business events in the U.S., which play a vital role in driving domestic economic growth, fostering job creation, and empowering U.S. small businesses every day.”

Restoring visa operations to pre-pandemic levels while modernizing the visa processing system is one of ECA’s top 2024 public policy priorities. While overall visitor visa wait times have decreased in recent months, they remain unacceptably long at many U.S. embassies and consulates around the world including Mexico City (882 days), Bogota (725 days), and Mumbai (437 days).

Along with supplemental funding for the U.S. Department of State, ECA also supports three pieces of legislation in Congress that would increase flexibility, transparency, and accountability at the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Consular Affairs when it comes to visitor visa processing. They are:

  • S.2632: Visa Processing Improvement Act
  • H.R.5127: Visitor Visa Wait Time Reduction Act
  • H.R.7263: VISITOR Act

“ECA welcomes this positive development from Capitol Hill, but we need to ensure that such lengthy visa wait times never occur again,” continued Sedky. “To achieve this goal, ECA will continue to advocate for Congress to pass visitor visa processing reforms, including as part of ECA’s 2024 Legislative Action Day.”

ECA Legislative Action Day, which brings industry leaders and advocates from across the business events ecosystem to Washington, DC to meet with policymakers on Capitol Hill about ECA’s top federal policy priorities, will take place on May 30, 2024.

About the Exhibitions & Conferences Alliance:

The Exhibitions & Conferences Alliance (ECA) is a coalition of leading professional, industry, and labor associations that comprise the unified advocacy voice of the business events industry. To learn more about ECA and its work to advance the interests of the industry, please visit https://www.exhibitionsconferencesalliance.org/.

For media inquiries or further information, please contact Tommy Goodwin: +1 (703) 672-0780 | tommy.goodwin@exhibitionsconferencesalliance.org.

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