Jobs, jobs jobs. Foreign visitor spending creates U.S. jobs. In 2012 China surpassed the U.S. in spending on international travel. The world is competing for these Chinese tourists. Since 9/11 all U.S. visa applicants must be interviewed "in person" by a U.S. consular officer before obtaining a visa to visit America. China has 160 cities with over 1 million people but only 5 of these cities have a U.S. consulate that conducts visa interviews. Visa applicants have to travel hundreds of miles for their 3 minute in person visa interview. As a result Chinese tourists, who spend an average of $6000 when visiting the U.S., travel elsewhere. Opening 100 videoconferencing visa application centers in China, funded by the travel industry and managed by a State Department approved GSS vendor, could process 40,000 applicants per center or 4 million new visitors to the U.S. spending $6000 and creating one new travel industry job for every 33 visitors. By using Limited Non-career Appointment (LNA) consular officers, who are totally self-funded by the $160 visa application fee, Consular Affairs can process the demand with no need for increased appropriations. All of the laws and security tools required to implement this job creation engine are in place. Since the application center is owned by private industry Chinese - U.S. reciprocity issues do not apply. At its root purpose each center is simply a video phone booth that is capable of making a video call to the embassy or a consulate office. A State Department GSS approved vendor manages each center and facilitates the "in-person" interview and transfer of applicant biometric data. To date Consular Affairs legal staff interprets the meaning of "in person" to require the visa applicant and interviewing officer to be physically in the same room. Secretary Kerry arguably has the authority to interpret Congressional intent regarding the meaning of "in person" to include videoconferencing interviews. Such an interpretation is supported by the most recent Senate passed Immigration bill calling for a pilot of vidoeconferencing visa interviews. Given this interpretation Secretary Kerry simply needs to direct the Bureau of Consular Affairs to implement videoconferencing visa interviews. The travel industry stands ready to partner with Consular Affairs, to include funding each visa application center, in order for 4 million additional Chinese tourists to visit the U.S. This will create over $24 billion in exports and 120,000 new travel industry jobs.
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