The travel industry is booming, but that doesn’t mean the only people packing their bags are going on vacation. The business travel market is thriving, too, and expected to reach nearly $1.7 billion by 2023. And while some business travel is domestic, work travel can just as easily become an international affair.
If you’re headed overseas for business, there’s more to arrange than what you’ll be wearing or where you’ll have business dinners. A passport doesn’t always guarantee entry, and you might need to apply for a visa to finalize your travel plans. The same is true for international travelers coming to the U.S. for work.
Americans can enter 184 countries around the world with just a passport, but how does that compare to the rest of the traveling population? To answer that question, Bayut analyzed data from the U.S. Department of State to determine how many people are traveling to the U.S., what documentation they need, which visas are the most common, and why those visas might be denied.
Immigrant visas are issued to applicants looking to live and work in the U.S. permanently. In contrast, nonimmigrant visas are issued to applicants on a temporary basis for business, tourism, or medical needs.
In 2018, there were nearly 80 million international visitors to the country and close to 9.6 million visas issued during the fiscal year. And a majority of visas issued to international travelers coming to the U.S. in 2018 were nonimmigrant. However, travelers from Mexico received the highest number of immigrant and nonimmigrant visas, followed by China, India, and Brazil for temporary travel.
A Global Travel Economy
The U.S. issues 28 major classes of nonimmigrant visas. More than 5.7 million nonimmigrant visas issued in 2018 were classified as B-1 or B-2, temporary for business or pleasure. More than 1.2 million of these visas, nearly 22%, were issued to residents of China. Chinese travelers were also the most likely to apply for F visas (academic or language students) and J visas (exchange visitors).
Another 1 million nonimmigrant visas were classified as B-1, B-2, or BCC visas, which are a combination of B-1 and B-2 visas with border crossing privileges exclusively for Mexico. Mexican travelers were also the most likely to be issued H visas, providing temporary work permits.
Travelers from the Western Hemisphere accounted for a majority of immigrant (nearly 45%) and nonimmigrant (about 41%) visas issued by the U.S. in 2018. Travelers from East Asia and the Pacific also accounted for 1 in 5 immigrant visas and 1 in 4 nonimmigrant visas.
Setting Travel Standards
The U.S. issued nearly 9.6 million visas in 2018 but denied millions more. For those applying for nonimmigrant visas, there were more than 2.7 million denials for failure to establish entitlement to nonimmigrant status. A majority of people who fell into this category were denied access to the U.S. because they couldn’t provide a clear indication of when they would be returning to their home countries.
Another 839,146 denials were issued because the application did not comply with provisions of INA or issued regulations.
Breaking Down Barriers
Some countries and their airports are working to make travel more convenient for international travelers, and research shows travel to and from those countries, including the Middle East, continues to rise.
As the U.S. continues to implement stricter guidelines around who’s permitted into the country for permanent or temporary reasons, it may become a less desirable location for international business meetings and summits.
*Study was conducted by Bayut.