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IAEE urges Obama to adopt changes for international attendees

IAEEThe International Association of Exhibitions and Events (IAEE) is urging President Obama to quickly accept a series of recommendations advanced to him on March 11 by the President’s Export Council intended to repair failures of existing U.S. visa and entry policies that are preventing thousands of international buyers from attending U.S.-based trade events.


Chairman of the President’s Export Council and president and CEO of Boeing W. James McNerney recommended five priorities to the President designed to help U.S. companies compete globally, including:

Facilitate visa processing for B visa travel by establishing dedicated business windows at U.S. consulates, setting aside specific times for B visa traveler interviews and encouraging U.S. posts abroad to collaborate with American Chambers of Commerce wherever possible to assist small business owners to secure their U.S. travel documents.

Streamline the visa interview and issuance processes by increasing the number of consular offices abroad, moving resources to those posts with the highest demand and waiving the interview requirement for low-risk cases.

Work with Congress to reform U.S. visa and immigration policies to attract the kind of highly-skilled workers, entrepreneurs and innovators from around the world.

Establish a Trusted Employer Program through U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to facilitate and streamline travel for employers with strong track records of compliance.

Form an informal public-private working group to serve as a mechanism to improve transparency and increase communication between the Departments of Commerce, Homeland Security and State, other relevant government agencies, and affected U.S. companies and industry groups.

Citing the alarming and chronic problems that international business visitors continue to endure when trying to secure travel documents to visit U.S.-based trade events, IAEE president Steven Hacker wrote President Obama, “The United States is not losing the competition, we are forfeiting it. We are not even in the game.”

IAEE, an early and outspoken supporter of the President’s National Export Initiative (NEI) which was launched in early 2010 to double U.S. exports by 2015, says the current visa mess imperils the chances of that program’s success.

“We can, and we must do better,” said Hacker.

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