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According to the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), 28.7 million persons entered the United States as either B-1 business or B-2 tourist visitors during the 1999-2000 fiscal year. [1]This figure does not include the 16.5 million visitors who entered pursuant to the Visa Waiver Program. INS’ recently proposed rules governing the admission of visitors could reduce these figures in the future. On April 12, 2002, the INS published an interim rule and a proposed rule that would significantly change the current regulations governing the B nonimmigrant status. The B visa, one of the most widely issued temporary visas, affords many visitors their initial entry into the United States. American consular officers grant B visas (B-1 visitor for business and B-2 visitor for pleasure) in furtherance of the United States policy to facilitate and promote international travel and the free movement of people of all nationalities to the United States. [2]The increased scrutiny and limitations on B visa issuance expected to take effect with the finalization of the proposed rule stand to diminish this policy.

Consistent with the ongoing crackdown on immigration policies prompted by terrorist activities in the United States, the INS continues to adopt measures that would drastically limit the mobility of foreign visitors. [3]Recent changes proposed by the INS contemplate a new vision for governing the period of authorized admission of B-1 visitors for business and B-2 visitors for pleasure. If these changes are implemented as proposed, it is expected that they will have a widespread impact not only on immigration policy but on business and tourism in the United States. Critics of the proposed rule are particularly concerned about the potential restrictions on family visits, especially by older relatives traveling long distances to see loved ones in the United States. [4]To dispel fears, one consular post has issued a reaction to the proposed change suggesting that the impact on visa issuance will not be as widespread as anticipated by international travelers. [5]

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