Imagine being a Brazilian or Colombian citizen hoping to travel to the U.S. on vacation. Make your plans early because it could take six months or longer to get your visas. Likewise for the African business owner looking to travel here to secure important funding. The fact is that America’s backlog of unprocessed visas has become an open secret around the world.
The backlog isn’t helping our national reputation. Whether people come for education, work, business, or leisure, having to wait so long for visa approval is disheartening and discouraging. Those who have opportunities to go elsewhere are more likely to do so.
So what is the problem? Why does it take so long for the U.S. to approve visas? As business immigration attorneys, we can tell you that there are multiple things in play here.
1. The COVID Pandemic
We are all tired of hearing about the COVID pandemic. We are also tired of blaming all of society’s ills on it. But we cannot deny the fact that the pandemic shut down American consulates all over the world. Not only that, but many consulate workers also returned home and did not go back. Consulates are terribly short staffed as a result.
Add to that the fact that there was a surge in visa applications once the government reopened our borders. So now we have a flood of applications and fewer consulate staff members to process them.
2. Government Bureaucracy
Another big issue is bureaucracy. Unfortunately, U.S. immigration law is built on what bureaucracy does best: generate paperwork and involve a lot of people in an otherwise simple process. Bureaucracy has always been an issue where visas are concerned. It only seems to get worse as time goes by.
The amazing thing about bureaucracy is that it doesn’t apply evenly around the world. According to a recent Bloomberg Opinion piece, Australia can approve visitor visas in about six weeks. The UK can do it in seven weeks. It takes the U.S. months. In some cases, tourists can wait years to get their visas.
Our system is not set up to be speedy. It is not set up to be efficient or easy to navigate. As such, bureaucracy slows things down to a crawl. But that’s why we encourage companies looking to bring in foreign workers to work with an experienced business immigration attorney.
3. Skilled Worker Shortage
Yet another contributing factor is a shortage of skilled workers. Companies are having to look outside the U.S. to find potential hires capable of doing the work. Washington knows this, and they are giving priority to business immigration over other immigration needs. Those wishing to come to the U.S. as tourists ultimately end up being put on the back burner.
Even with business immigration though, the backlog is significant. A Graham Adair H-1B visa attorney spends a lot more time on each individual case as compared to just four or five years ago.
We have to assume that Washington’s heavy emphasis on business immigration will continue for the foreseeable future. Assuming the U.S. education system doesn’t step up its STEM game, companies will have to continue going overseas for skilled workers.
Don’t Wait Too Long
If your company is hoping to bring immigrant workers into the U.S., we urge you not to wait too long to initiate the visa process. Work with your prospective hires to get the process rolling as soon as possible. You are going to need some time to get it done. Of course, call on Graham Adair for legal representation and assistance navigating what can be a particularly challenging process.