U.S. and Japanese Practices for Granting Business Visas

NSIAD-88-48BR: Published: Dec 29, 1987. Publicly Released: Feb 12, 1988.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on: (1) the United States' review process for issuing E- and L-visas to aliens entering the country for business purposes; (2) Japan's visa system; and (3) characteristics of Japanese who obtained E- and L-visas from the United States.

GAO found that the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo and the U.S. Consulate in Osaka: (1) issued about 9,700 E-visas and 4,000 L-visas to Japanese citizens in fiscal year 1986; (2) had wide latitude in deciding whether to issue visas; (3) refused very few Japanese business visa applications; and (4) in approving visas, relied on information applicants and their companies provided. GAO also found that: (1) the Department of State attempts to maintain flexibility in its visa approval process by specifying factors for consideration, but not their relative weight or emphasis; and (2) of 265 Japanese E- and L-visa holders it studied, most were executives or supervisors with over 10 years of company experience, had annual salaries of over $49,997, and were college graduates. In addition, GAO found that Japan: (1) averaged about 6,390 posting and working visas in the United States; (2) took between several days to several months for its review process; and (3) required companies to meet a minimum gross sale or investment amount for their employees to qualify for visas.

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