• Record Demand for U.S. Visas from Brazilian and Chinese Nationals
  • January 2, 2012 | Authors: Jay Carmichael; Mariana R. Ribeiro; Sarah Lea Tobocman
  • Law Firm: Gunster - Miami Office
  • The U.S. Department of State (DOS) reported on December 21, 2011, that its U.S. Mission to Brazil processed a record 820,000 U.S. visa applications in fiscal year 2011, a 42 percent increase from the previous fiscal year. The demand for U.S. visas in China also increased at an unprecedented rate.  U.S. consular officers in China processed more than 1,000,000 applications during fiscal year 2011, a 34 percent increase over 2010.

    Businesses that are involved in commerce with Brazil and China frequently require foreign national executives and professionals from those countries to enter the U.S. for business conferences and meetings. Cognizance of the time required to process the U.S. visa is of key importance.  In some cases the general waiting period for a visa appointment can be shortened when the foreign national qualifies for processing through certain special programs set up to accommodate emergency business travel. However, such programs do not accommodate every situation.

    In recognition of long waiting periods for visa appointments, DOS is taking action. It will double consular staffing in Brazil over the course of 2012, adding 50 new officer positions. In the meantime, DOS is deploying temporary employees to the U.S. Embassy in Brasilia and U.S. Consulates in São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, and Recife to process “extraordinary numbers of visa applications” until permanent staff members arrive. Efforts are being made in China, as well, to handle the increased demand.

    DOS reports that with the help of additional personnel, the U.S. Mission Brazil has reduced the average wait time for visa interview appointments in Brazil to less than 50 days. It further reports that the average wait for visa interview appointments in China is now less than 10 days.

    For businesses that seek to assist foreign nationals from Brazil or China with U.S. visa processing, and for individuals from those countries applying on their own for U.S. visas, consultation with counsel as early as possible prior to the anticipated travel date can be important. Immigration counsel can determine the foreign national’s eligibility for an expedited processing appointment through the existing special programs and if such is not available, can get the process started with ample time.