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Quigley, Rice Introduce Legislation to Reform Visa Laws and Increase National Security

Apr 9, 2019
Press Release

Today, U.S. Representatives Mike Quigley (IL-05) and Tom Rice (SC-07) re-introduced the bipartisan Jobs Originating through Launching Travel (JOLT) Act of 2019 to improve national security, increase international tourism, and reform visa laws.

“International tourism generates billions of dollars in economic activity every year. As Members of Congress, it is our responsibility to put policies in place that support this sector of our economy while also ensuring the safety and security of our nation,” said Quigley. “The updates to our visa program made by the JOLT Act will drive essential progress on both of these goals.”

“The Jobs Originating through Launching Travel Act (JOLT) strengthens the Visa Waiver Program, which generates billions in annual economic activity and supports U.S. intelligence efforts abroad. Expanding streamlined travel into the United Sates for pre-approved visitors will not only create American jobs and boost South Carolina’s tourism industry, but will bolster homeland security and counterterrorism efforts,” said Rice.

Critically, the JOLT Act of 2019 bolsters national security by renaming the Visa Waiver Program to the Secure Travel Partnership. The Visa Waiver Program allows pre-screened, pre-approved travelers from participating countries to travel to the United States, after undergoing a rigorous Department of Homeland Security approval process, for stays of up to 90 days. Rebranding the program to the Secure Travel Partnership more accurately reflects the mission and security of the program. Quigley and Rice, with a bipartisan group of members, introduced standalone legislation earlier this year to rename this program.

As part of efforts to increase international tourism, the JOLT Act would allow Canadian travelers to visit the United States for a maximum of 240 days—an increase from the current limitation of 180 days.

This legislation also provides much-needed reforms to U.S. visa laws including setting a goal of 15 days for reviews of non-immigrant visas, creating a pilot program for processing visas by video conferencing, and coordinates enrollment for visas and the Global Entry program.

Quigley and Rice previously introduced the JOLT Act in 2018 and, earlier this year, they introduced standalone legislation to rename the Visa Waiver Program. The JOLT Act has been endorsed by U.S. Travel Association.

“The Jobs Originated through Launching Travel (JOLT) Act of 2019 will have an immediate positive impact on the travel and tourism industry, which supports 15.6 million American jobs,” said U.S. Travel Association Executive Vice President of Public Affairs and Policy Tori Barnes. “The legislation will achieve two important objectives: First, the JOLT Act will strengthen travel opportunities with the key Canadian trade market while also promoting new ways for overseas visitors to apply for visas. Second, it will strengthen our ‘gold standard’ international travel vetting and facilitation program by renaming it the Secure Travel Partnership and providing the Department of Homeland Security the needed flexibility to expand this security program to new countries. It’s clear that without security there can be no travel, and the JOLT Act helps to ensure we will have robust measures of both.  The U.S. Travel Association thanks Representatives Quigley and Rice for their continued support of travel.”