Contact: Louisa Tavlas

WASHINGTON, D.C., NOVEMBER 20, 2023 –The Niskanen Center has co-led a coalition letter with the American Immigration Council, the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), the Federation for American Scientists, and the Institute for Progress (IFP) calling for the extension of visa interview waiver authorities that are set to expire on December 31, 2023. The letter–addressed to Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas– is signed by a diverse group of business, travel, faith, civic, and immigration organizations.

With the support of these 66 signatories representing over 12,000 businesses and 300,000 individuals, the letter highlights the importance of these waivers for our economy and the international students, workers, and travelers who come to the U.S. every year. These interview waivers have allowed consulates to manage the excessive wait times and costly delays that have accompanied the resurgence of post-pandemic travel, and they have permitted consular staff to focus their resources more intensively on the cases that need more scrutiny and attention. 

“Though American consulates have ramped up their efficiency since the end of the pandemic, capacity still lags behind the demands of the revitalized travel economy. Interview waivers have been critical in keeping wait times from growing out of control,” said Cecilia Esterline, a research analyst at Niskanen. 

Esterline continues, “Allowing the waiver authorities to expire at the end of this year would have costly consequences for American businesses that rely on tourist expenditures, for universities whose students are unable to begin their studies due to visa delays, and on companies who are forced to move conferences or projects abroad as a result of unreasonable delays. The extension requested in this letter would protect these interests and provide ongoing relief while consular capacity continues to be rebuilt.”

As the year-end deadline rapidly approaches, the Niskanen Center and its partners look forward to continuing to work with U.S. federal agencies to extend these waiver authorities and improve visa processing for all the individuals and industries affected by prolonged delays. 

The Niskanen Center is a 501(c)(3) advocacy organization established in 2014 to change public policy through direct engagement in the policymaking process.