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Red Tape Travelers Response To U S*
January 22, 2004 3:29 a.m. EST
Fees, Red Tape
On U.S. Tourists
In Response to Post-9/11 Changes,
Foreign Governments Hit
Americans With New Visa Rules
By ELEENA DE LISSER
Staff Reporter of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
It's payback time for U.S. travelers.
Partly in retaliation for the United States' tougher stance toward foreign visitors, a number of countries have raised visa fees and erected new hurdles for incoming American citizens. While the higher fees and new paperwork aren't onerous, the added steps could catch some travelers off guard and add a new degree of complexity to overseas trips.
For instance, after the U.S. raised visa application fees for incoming Chinese visitors, Beijing last year hit back, boosting fees 67% for Americans heading to China. In the past year, Nepal, Pakistan and Thailand also raised visa fees for U.S. travelers. Russia not only raised fees, but now also requires all American men ages 16 to 45 to fill out a form detailing, among other things, whether they were ever in the armed services.
Brazil has been the most visible in its displeasure with new U.S. policies that require many foreigners to be fingerprinted and photographed upon entry. This month, Brazil started fingerprinting American travelers upon arrival, causing hours-long delays in customs for Americans. A Brazilian tourism official says the process has significantly improved since then and that U.S. visitors shouldn't take more than a few minutes to be processed. Brazil also has raised its visa fee.
Other countries are introducing new layers of paperwork. Saudi Arabia, which has always required letters of invitation from a registered company in the kingdom, now requires the original letter to be submitted with an official seal from the Saudi Chamber of Commerce. Previously, a faxed or e-mailed copy was acceptable, according to companies that help foreigners do the paperwork for Saudi visas.
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