Will Foreign Visitors Face More Delays?
Planners fear new security measures will hurt delegates from overseas
On Jan. 5, the Department of Homeland Security
initiated the U.S. Visitor and Immigration Status Indication
Technology (US-VISIT) program, requiring all visitors to the United
States to be fingerprinted and photographed. This, coming on top of
the recent requirement that all visa applicants be interviewed at
their country’s U.S. consulate (see Newsline, “New Visa Rules Deter
Foreign Attendees,” July 2003), has caused some planners to voice
For now, only travelers requiring visas will be subject to this
process, but by year-end, all foreign visitors will need to be
fingerprinted and photographed. Upon leaving the United States,
they will have their prints compared with their arrival
The new system could delay attendees from overseas bound for
domestic meetings, said Joanna Carson, Esq., business immigration
associate at the Washington, D.C.-based American Immigration
Lawyers Association. Increased processing times at points of entry
could cause attendees to miss flights, she said, and visa delays at
consulates in the countries of origin could prevent would-be
delegates from reaching the U.S. in the first place.
“The government does not see a problem, but we think they need
to increase funding and staffing at consulates and make sure
security checks are not repetitive,” Carson said.
Sharon Manley, international liaison for Washington, D.C.-based
Science Service, expects her association’s affiliate in Pakistan,
which plans to send delegates to her annual event in May, to be
“I’ve written to all the consulates, including Pakistan, to tell
them these attendees are legitimate,” she said.
Mark Smith, director of government relations for the American
Association of University Professors in Washington, D.C., already
has seen fallout in the academic world. “Students from overseas who
study in the U.S. and then go abroad are experiencing problems when
returning to their universities,” he said.
Not all planners expect the new program to be a headache,
though. “Most of my attendees who had problems did so as a result
of their own mistakes, not increased security,” said Mary Beth
Krause, director of the New York City-based Modern Language