WASHINGTON — A bipartisan group of senators introduced legislation Monday that would reform outdated visa laws and cut down on the red tape hindering tens of thousands of visitors from coming to the U.S. and depriving retailers of potential sales.
Major retailers have been lobbying the Obama administration to ease visa rules so that tourists, especially those from fast-growing economies such as China and Brazil, can more easily visit the U.S. and spend their money on luxury goods and fashion items here rather than in Europe.
“With the global travel market set to dramatically increase in the coming years, it is critical that we harness its power to boost our travel and tourism industries,” said Sen. Charles Schumer (D., N.Y.), one of seven lead co-sponsors of the bill. “This bipartisan proposal will create hundreds of thousands of jobs in the next decade and inject billions of dollars in our country’s economy.”
The legislation follows an executive order issued by President Obama in January that charged the State Department and Department of Homeland Security with increasing visa processing capacity for tourists from China and Brazil by 40 percent this year and ensuring that 80 percent of nonimmigrant visa applicants are interviewed within three weeks of their applications being received.
The administration said by 2016 the number of travelers from China is projected to grow 135 percent, while the number of those from Brazil is expected to increase by 274 percent compared with 2010. Chinese and Brazilian tourists currently spend more than $6,000 and $5,000, respectively, each trip to the U.S., according to the Commerce Department.
Senators intend to build on Obama’s plan to increase tourism and create more jobs with their bill, dubbed the Jobs Originated through Launching Travel Act, or JOLT, which would require the State Department to establish “premium processing” procedures and allow for the expedited processing, for a fee, on nonimmigrant visas from India, China and Brazil, resulting in the issue of a visa within three business days from the date a visa is requested, if approved. The legislation would set new standards for visa processing, requiring visa interviews to be conducted within 15 days of requesting an appointment initially and, within a year after the bill is enacted, shortening that time period to 10 days.
The bill encourages the State Department to issue Chinese nationals longer visas than one year, and focus on processing visa renewals rather than facilitating travel by new visitors. It also aims to spur Canadian consumption, lengthening visas to 240 days from the current 180 days and permitting the State Department to lower visa application fees during off-peak seasons.
A Senate Judiciary subcommittee is slated to hold a hearing today on the bill and on promoting international travel to the U.S.
London’s newly opened @designmuseum will look back on the life and work of Azzedine Alaïa in a show that the designer helped to curate before he died of heart failure last month. The retrospective, which Alaïa had worked on with Mark Wilson, chief curator of the @groningermuseum, will look at the impact of his work worldwide. The show, “Azzedine Alaïa: The Couturier,” will run from May 10 to October 7. Read more about the exhibit on WWD.com #wwdnews #wwdfashion (📷: @zefashioninsider)
@Pharrell and his wife Helen Lasichanh were among the stars that came out to celebrate @rimowa’s first pop-up concept shop. The space, which is located on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, draws inspiration from airport luggage carousels and lounge areas – and features the company’s luggage and accessories. If the pop-up is successful it could pave the way for addition temporary shops throughout the world. #wwdfashion (📷: Owen Kolasinski/BFA)
@carineroitfeld celebrated @crfashionbook’s first calendar last night with a dinner party at Spring Place in Manhattan. Photographed by @stevenkleinstudio, the calendar takes on a fitness theme and features @joansmalls, @gigihadid, @danielle_herrington_ – pictured here – and more. “[Carine Roitfeld] wanted me to feel sexy and she wanted me to be myself and feel it out on my own and do what I felt was right,” said Herrington, aka Miss October. #wwdeye
@saintrecords and @virgilabloh last night at @americanexpress’ “A Night With Success Makers” event. “I always bring it back to community because without that I wouldn’t have the courage,” said Knowles when asked how she has gotten where she is now. Read more highlights from their conversation on WWD.com. #wwdeye (📷: @lizdoupnik)
This Just In: Industry sources have told WWD that Anastasia Soare is rumored to be considering selling her beauty business, @anastasiabeverlyhills. According to those sources, Soare has tapped investment bank Imperial Capital to explore sale options for her eponymous beauty brand –– and with at least $340 million in net sales, this would be a big deal. Put in context of other recent transactions for makeup companies, Soare’s price tag could be in the billions if she were to sell the whole thing. #wwdnews #wwdbeauty (📷: @clint_spaulding)
@assouline’s latest book, “The Spirit of Bentley: Be Extraordinary” captures the adventurous attitudes and opulent lifestyles of @bentleymotors’ most creative owners and enthusiasts throughout the U.K. The 292-page hardcover has a section dedicated to showing its team of skilled artisans and photos of its most colorful owners, from George Bamford to designer @alicetemperley, pictured here by Aline Coquelle. #wwdeye
@google released its report on the most popular search terms this year. For fashion brands, the list was led by @gucci, the luxury brand that stunned the market last October when it pledged to stop using fur. Runner ups were @supremenewyork and @fashionnova, along with more established brands like @louisvuitton, @chanelofficial and @ysl. #wwdfashion (📷: @aitorrosasphoto)
In yet another fashion show shuffle, @elleryland is moving its show in sync with the Paris couture calendar — though the brand is still keeping one foot on the city’s ready-to-wear schedule. Their runway show in January will coincide with the launch of a new strategy: designing two main collections each year instead of four, which will then be released in four drops. “As we all know, the system needs to change. We need to show sooner to give time back to artisans and designers to do what they do best — create,” said founder Kym Ellery. #wwdnews #wwdfashion (📷: @kukukuba)
@maxmara’s classic 101801 coat was the cornerstone of its pre-fall 2018 collection. The design team expanded the traditional double-breasted, kimono-sleeved style into a trapeze coat, lean belted styles and a peacoat and presented them in monochromatic looks – like the camel one pictured here. #wwdfashion #prefall18 (📷: George Chinsee)