It’s the end of the summer, and millions of Americans are either still away on summer break or returning home to get back into the swing of things for the rest of the year.
Their first stop back may be overseas.
Frequent visitors from the U.S. face few restrictions than they did a few months ago, long before the White House’s recent changes to the immigrant visa program. The State Department says visitors returning from Jamaica, Greece, Hungary, Mexico, Ecuador, Panama, Russia, Turkey, Sweden, Spain, and Taiwan have been getting visas at U.S. consulates in those countries.
For now, just as many nations – if not more – are restoring once-banned programs.
Alaska, Arizona, New Mexico, South Dakota, Texas, Virginia, and Washington are among the states that have not held back, even as they are not at the top of the list of countries welcoming Americans.
The list of those most welcoming includes: Ireland, Peru, Guatemala, Mexico, Chile, Greece, Costa Rica, South Africa, and Jamaica.
The rankings are in the latest U.S. State Department report, “Trafficking in Persons Report 2019.”
The categories in the State Department report are based on each country’s efforts to stamp out human trafficking – victimization, exploitation and abuse – with or without assistance.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation reported human trafficking refers to “anything which facilitates or encourages sexual exploitation.”
“Trafficking can also include bonded slavery – forced labor in homes, or forced child labor in industries like agriculture, mining, and construction. But the vast majority of victims are trafficked through travel – as a servant, a worker, a miner, a soldier or trader,” says Brian Mizer, president of the ECPAT International Foundation, which advocates for combating the exploitation of children.
The report, released Aug. 31, found the countries that are best and worst prepared to combat human trafficking.
Its authors put out their list the same day as the Trump administration announced it would phase out the H-1B visa program for highly skilled workers.
The program had been largely criticized by Democrats, saying it encouraged companies to import foreign workers, and undermined the American worker, by driving up wages.
Trump also recently announced changes to the visa lottery program, which he said provides foreign nationals who have been living in the U.S. for one year or longer with visas instead of giving them one by lottery, as had been the case.
The visa lottery program will not be affected by Trump’s changes, however.
While many of the popular and less popular visa programs will be reviewed and may not be in the future, if they are in place now, the visa lottery program will not be affected, according to the State Department.
“We often use the words ‘Visa Review’ because we want to ensure that each prospective visa visitor has been assessed to the same standard in order to ensure that such individuals are suitable for travel to the United States,” the agency wrote.
“This Visa Review Program helps us assess prospective visa applicants based on their eligibility, ensuring that those individuals are not unsuitable for travel to the United States, particularly if there are concerns about their health or national security.”
This year’s report found most nations were “making efforts” to prevent child sex abuse and exploitation.
China, Thailand, Bangladesh, Vietnam, and Pakistan were among the four countries included in the “priority watch list.”
The top 10 visa-recipient countries:
China Indonesia Jamaica Korea Ireland Peru Germany South Africa Hungary Malaysia Turkey Saudi Arabia Japan
The top 10 visa-recipient countries whose citizens don’t need a visa:
U.S. Venezuela Brazil Indonesia Canada Mexico Thailand Tunisia Germany Switzerland Japan Greece Russia Mexico