time to obtain a US visa breaks record – SEE

The dream of traveling to the United States has never been so far away for thousands of Brazilians. There are no economic reasons for this — the dollar has maintained some stability in recent years and tourism agencies confirm that demand has grown. The reason is of another nature: the queue to get a visa at the consulates has stalled. A few days ago, the time to schedule an interview date and submit documents at diplomatic representations reached the highest level in history for those who have never been to American territory. In São Paulo, the waiting period is 556 days, equivalent to eighteen months. In Rio de Janeiro, it is 442 days (or fifteen months). With 438 days, Brasília is a little better, but not much.

US authorities attribute the disruption to the pandemic. “It is essential to remember that the problem does not only occur in Brazil”, says Michael Whipple, advisor for consular affairs at the US Embassy. “We are fighting to decrease the waiting time.” The laudable challenge is immense. Every day, at least 6 000 requests are processed by the diplomatic mission. In search of normalization of the process, the consulates hired more employees and created opening hours on Saturdays, but the queues should only start to reduce at the end of the first semester. “We want Brazilians to continue traveling to the United States”, says Whipple. According to projections by US authorities, the number of Brazilian tourists in the country is expected to increase by 19% in 2023.

BOARDING – Galeão Airport: travel has returned after the pandemic (Fabio Rossi/Ag. O Globo/.)

Still, many travel plans have been postponed. After the health crisis that confined to the imagination any expectation of touring the world, the couple Cristina Miguel and Ícaro Ramos, both 36 years old, finally put into practice the project of returning to Times Square, in New York, and watching, live, to a National Football League (NFL) football game. However, when entering the website for scheduling interviews at the American consulate in São Paulo, they discovered that securing one more stamp in the passport would require patience: there was only availability for the last stage of the process in September 2024. The solution was to try a new one. strategy. Even though they live in Franca, in the interior of São Paulo, they scheduled the interview far from home, in Porto Alegre, Rio Grande do Sul, where the queue is 406 days long. “Our idea is to travel in the first half of 2024”, justifies Ramos.

The good news is that the chances of approval are high. Even occupying the second place among the countries that most requested American visas in 2022, the disapprovals of Brazilians did not exceed 15%. Ana Barbara Schaffert, from the immigration law firm AG Immigration, recalls that the most relevant point to avoid having the application denied is to demonstrate strong ties with Brazil — formal employment, good financial conditions and possession of assets are decisive factors.

DISNEY – On the rise: the number of Brazilian tourists in the US will rise 19% in 2023 (Joseph Prezioso/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

The waiting time for visas that are not related to tourism is much shorter, not exceeding a week in some cases. However, an aggravating threat threatens to overburden consulate attendants even more. The first ten-year visas were issued in 2010 and, therefore, began to expire in recent months. To avoid increasing queues, the embassy extended from twelve to 24 months the deadline for requesting the update of these authorizations without having to go through a new interview. Whipple, the spokesman for the US Embassy in Brazil, warns that many people who could be exempted from talking with consular agents are being directed to this stage because they filled out the registration in the system incorrectly. With a little more attention, the waiting time would be much shorter and first-time applicants would be served more quickly. It’s worth a tip for anyone who doesn’t want to turn the dream of visiting the United States into a big nightmare.

Published in VEJA on April 5, 2023, edition no. 2835


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