January 28, 2013 – In the newest report, the US Consulate in Dhahran is reported to have been issuing about 100 US visas to Saudis each day which reflects the unprecedented increase of Saudis entering the United States.
This is perhaps because of the fact that the Obama administration has eased the visa restrictions on Saudis to allow more visa approvals annually especially for the people of Saudi Arabia. It is interesting to note that the easing of restrictions has been made while a number of Saudi nationals were implicated in criminal and security offenses in the USA.
Since 2010 when Saudi businessmen and students have been allowed to come to the US more easily, there has been a 60 percent increase in the number of Saudis that come to America. Then in 2012, about 21,000 US visas were approved wherein 30 percent of these went to Saudis including students.
Talking about the Saudi nationals, Joseph Hood, US Consul-General Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, says, “They form a large segment of travelers to the United States, while they also represent an important economic factor. In addition, Saudi Arabia also sends a large number of students to the United States, and the number of Saudi students in the United States rivals those from India”.
If the easing of the restrictions on visa approvals for Saudis will prove positive and beneficial to both parties, then this may possibly escalate to making Saudi a member of the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) of the US. Under this program, passport holders of member countries will be able to enjoy a visa-free entry to the US by just applying for a USA ESTA visa. The ESTA form for ESTA applications may be accessed online.