Text: H.R.5741 — 112th Congress (2011-2012)All Bill Information (Except Text)

There is one version of the bill.

Bill text available as:

Shown Here:
Introduced in House (05/15/2012)


112th CONGRESS
2d Session
H. R. 5741

To amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to stimulate international tourism to the United States, and for other purposes.


IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
May 15, 2012

Mr. Heck (for himself, Mr. Quigley, and Mr. Chabot) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on the Judiciary, and in addition to the Committee on Homeland Security, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned


A BILL

To amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to stimulate international tourism to the United States, and for other purposes.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. Short titles.

This Act may be cited as the “Jobs Originated through Launching Travel Act of 2012” or the “JOLT Act of 2012”.

SEC. 2. Premium processing.

Section 221 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1201) is amended by inserting at the end the following:

“(j) Premium processing.—

“(1) PILOT PROCESSING SERVICE.—Recognizing that the best solution for expedited processing is low interview wait times for all applicants, the Secretary of State shall nevertheless establish, on a limited, pilot basis only, a fee-based premium processing service to expedite interview appointments. In establishing a pilot processing service, the Secretary may—

“(A) determine the consular posts at which the pilot service will be available;

“(B) establish the duration of the pilot service;

“(C) define the terms and conditions of the pilot service, with the goal of expediting visa appointments and the interview process for those electing to pay said fee for the service; and

“(D) resources permitting, during the pilot service, consider the addition of consulates in locations advantageous to foreign policy objectives or in highly populated locales.

“(2) FEES.—

“(A) AUTHORITY TO COLLECT.—The Secretary of State is authorized to collect, and set the amount of, a fee imposed for the premium processing service. The Secretary of State shall set the fee based on all relevant considerations including, the cost of expedited service.

“(B) USE OF FEES.—Fees collected under the authority of subparagraph (A) shall be deposited as an offsetting collection to any Department of State appropriation, to recover the costs of providing consular services. Such fees shall remain available for obligation until expended.

“(C) RELATIONSHIP TO OTHER FEES.—Such fee is in addition to any existing fee currently being collected by the Department of State.

“(D) NON-REFUNDABLE.—Such fee will be non-refundable to the applicant.

“(3) DESCRIPTION OF PREMIUM PROCESSING.—Premium processing pertains solely to the expedited scheduling of a visa interview. Utilizing the premium processing service for an expedited interview appointment does not establish the applicant’s eligibility for a visa. The Secretary of State shall, if possible, inform applicants utilizing the premium processing of potential delays in visa issuance due to additional screening requirements, including necessary security-related checks and clearances.

“(4) REPORT TO CONGRESS.—

“(A) REQUIREMENT FOR REPORT.—Not later than 18 months after the date of the enactment of the JOLT Act of 2012, the Secretary of State shall submit to the appropriate committees of Congress a report on the results of the pilot service carried out under this section.

“(B) APPROPRIATE COMMITTEES OF CONGRESS DEFINED.—In this paragraph, the term ‘appropriate committees of Congress’ means—

“(i) the Committee on the Judiciary, the Committee on Foreign Relations, and the Committee on Appropriations of the Senate; and

“(ii) the Committee on the Judiciary, the Committee on Foreign Affairs, and the Committee on Appropriations of the House of Representatives.”.

SEC. 3. Encouraging Canadian tourism to the United States.

Section 214 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1184) is amended by adding at the end the following:

“(s) Canadian retirees.—

“(1) IN GENERAL.—The Secretary of Homeland Security may admit as a visitor for pleasure as described in section 101(a)(15)(B) any alien for a period not to exceed 240 days, if the alien demonstrates, to the satisfaction of the Secretary, that the alien—

“(A) is a citizen of Canada;

“(B) is at least 50 years of age;

“(C) maintains a residence in Canada;

“(D) owns a residence in the United States or has signed a rental agreement for accommodations in the United States for the duration of the alien's stay in the United States;

“(E) is not inadmissible under section 212;

“(F) is not described in any ground of deportability under section 237;

“(G) will not engage in employment or labor for hire in the United States; and

“(H) will not seek any form of assistance or benefit described in section 403(a) of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (8 U.S.C. 1613(a)).

“(2) SPOUSE.—The spouse of an alien described in paragraph (1) may be admitted under the same terms as the principal alien if the spouse satisfies the requirements of paragraph (1), other than subparagraph (D).

“(3) IMMIGRANT INTENT.—In determining eligibility for admission under this subsection, maintenance of a residence in the United States shall not be considered evidence of intent by the alien to abandon the alien's residence in Canada.

“(4) PERIOD OF ADMISSION.—During any single 365-day period, an alien may be admitted as described in section 101(a)(15)(B) pursuant to this subsection for a period not to exceed 240 days, beginning on the date of admission. Periods of time spent outside the United States during such 240-day period shall not toll the expiration of such 240-day period.”.

SEC. 4. Incentives for foreign visitors visiting the United States during low peak seasons.

The Secretary of State shall make publically available, on a monthly basis, historical data, for the previous 2 years, regarding the availability of visa appointments for each visa processing post, to allow applicants to identify periods of low demand, when wait times tend to be lower.

SEC. 5. Visa waiver program enhanced security and reform.

(a) Definitions.—Section 217(c)(1) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1187(c)(1)) is amended to read as follows:

“(1) AUTHORITY TO DESIGNATE; DEFINITIONS.—

“(A) AUTHORITY TO DESIGNATE.—The Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Secretary of State, may designate any country as a program country if that country meets the requirements under paragraph (2).

“(B) DEFINITIONS.—In this subsection:

“(i) APPROPRIATE CONGRESSIONAL COMMITTEES.—The term ‘appropriate congressional committees’ means—

“(I) the Committee on Foreign Relations, the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, and the Committee on the Judiciary of the Senate; and

“(II) the Committee on Foreign Affairs, the Committee on Homeland Security, and the Committee on the Judiciary of the House of Representatives.

“(ii) OVERSTAY RATE.—

“(I) INITIAL DESIGNATION.—The term ‘overstay rate’ means, with respect to a country being considered for designation in the program, the ratio of—

“(aa) the number of nationals of that country who were admitted to the United States on the basis of a nonimmigrant visa under section 101(a)(15)(B) whose periods of authorized stay ended during a fiscal year but who remained unlawfully in the United States beyond such periods; to

“(bb) the number of nationals of that country who were admitted to the United States on the basis of a nonimmigrant visa under section 101(a)(15)(B) whose periods of authorized stay ended during that fiscal year.

“(II) CONTINUING DESIGNATION.—The term ‘overstay rate’ means, for each fiscal year after initial designation under this section with respect to a country, the ratio of—

“(aa) the number of nationals of that country who were admitted to the United States under this section or on the basis of a nonimmigrant visa under section 101(a)(15)(B) whose periods of authorized stay ended during a fiscal year but who remained unlawfully in the United States beyond such periods; to

“(bb) the number of nationals of that country who were admitted to the United States under this section or on the basis of a nonimmigrant visa under section 101(a)(15)(B) whose periods of authorized stay ended during that fiscal year.

“(III) COMPUTATION OF OVERSTAY RATE.—In determining the overstay rate for a country, the Secretary of Homeland Security may utilize information from any available databases to ensure the accuracy of such rate.

“(iii) PROGRAM COUNTRY.—The term ‘program country’ means a country designated as a program country under subparagraph (A).”.

(b) Technical and conforming amendments.—Section 217 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1187) is amended—

(1) by striking “Attorney General” each place the term appears (except in subsection (c)(11)(B)) and inserting “Secretary of Homeland Security”; and

(2) in subsection (c)—

(A) in paragraph (2)(C)(iii), by striking “Committee on the Judiciary and the Committee on International Relations of the House of Representatives and the Committee on the Judiciary and the Committee on Foreign Relations of the Senate” and inserting “appropriate congressional committees”;

(B) in paragraph (5)(A)(i)(III), by striking “Committee on the Judiciary, the Committee on Foreign Affairs, and the Committee on Homeland Security, of the House of Representatives and the Committee on the Judiciary, the Committee on Foreign Relations, and the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs of the Senate” and inserting “appropriate congressional committees”; and

(C) in paragraph (7), by striking subparagraph (E).

(c) Designation of program countries based on overstay rates.—

(1) IN GENERAL.—Section 217(c)(2)(A) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1187(c)(2)(A)) is amended to read as follows:

“(A) GENERAL NUMERICAL LIMITATIONS.—

“(i) LOW NONIMMIGRANT VISA REFUSAL RATE.—The percentage of nationals of that country refused nonimmigrant visas under section 101(a)(15)(B) during the previous full fiscal year was not more than 3 percent of the total number of nationals of that country who were granted or refused nonimmigrant visas under such section during such year.

“(ii) LOW NONIMMIGRANT OVERSTAY RATE.—The overstay rate for that country was not more than 3 percent during the previous fiscal year.”.

(2) QUALIFICATION CRITERIA.—Section 217(c)(3) of such Act (8 U.S.C. 1187(c)(3)) is amended to read as follows:

“(3) QUALIFICATION CRITERIA.—After designation as a program country under section 217(c)(2), a country may not continue to be designated as a program country unless the Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Secretary of State, determines, pursuant to the requirements under paragraph (5), that the designation will be continued.”.

(3) INITIAL PERIOD.—Section 217(c) is further amended by striking subsection (c)(4).

(4) CONTINUING DESIGNATION.—Section 217(c)(5)(A)(i)(II) of such Act (8 U.S.C. 1187(c)(5)(A)(i)(II)) is amended to read as follows:

“(II) shall determine, based upon the evaluation in subclause (I), whether any such designation under subsection (d) or (f), or probation under subsection (f), ought to be continued or terminated;”.

(5) COMPUTATION OF VISA REFUSAL RATES; JUDICIAL REVIEW.—Section 217(c)(6) of such Act (8 U.S.C. 1187(c)(6)) is amended to read as follows:

“(6) COMPUTATION OF VISA REFUSAL RATES AND JUDICIAL REVIEW.—

“(A) COMPUTATION OF VISA REFUSAL RATES.—For purposes of determining the eligibility of a country to be designated as a program country, the calculation of visa refusal rates shall not include any visa refusals which incorporate any procedures based on, or are otherwise based on, race, sex, or disability, unless otherwise specifically authorized by law or regulation.

“(B) JUDICIAL REVIEW.—No court shall have jurisdiction under this section to review any visa refusal, the Secretary of State’s computation of a visa refusal rate, the Secretary of Homeland Security’s computation of an overstay rate, or the designation or nondesignation of a country as a program country.”.

(6) VISA WAIVER INFORMATION.—Section 217(c)(7) of such Act (8 U.S.C. 1187(c)(7)) is amended—

(A) by striking subparagraphs (B) through (D); and

(B) by striking “waiver information.—” and all that follows through “In refusing” and inserting “waiver information.—In refusing”.

(7) WAIVER AUTHORITY.—Section 217(c)(8) of such Act (8 U.S.C. 1187(c)(8)) is amended to read as follows:

“(8) WAIVER AUTHORITY.—The Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Secretary of State, may waive the application of paragraph (2)(A)(i) for a country if—

“(A) the country meets all other requirements of paragraph (2);

“(B) the Secretary of Homeland Security determines that the totality of the country's security risk mitigation measures provide assurance that the country's participation in the program would not compromise the law enforcement, security interests, or enforcement of the immigration laws of the United States;

“(C) there has been a general downward trend in the percentage of nationals of the country refused nonimmigrant visas under section 101(a)(15)(B);

“(D) the country consistently cooperated with the Government of the United States on counterterrorism initiatives, information sharing, preventing terrorist travel, and extradition to the United States of individuals (including the country's own nationals) who commit crimes that violate United States law before the date of its designation as a program country, and the Secretary of Homeland Security and the Secretary of State assess that such cooperation is likely to continue; and

“(E) the percentage of nationals of the country refused a nonimmigrant visa under section 101(a)(15)(B) during the previous full fiscal year was not more than 10 percent of the total number of nationals of that country who were granted or refused such nonimmigrant visas.”.

(d) Termination of designation; probation.—Section 217(f) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1187(f)) is amended to read as follows:

“(f) Termination of designation; probation.—

“(1) DEFINITIONS.—In this subsection:

“(A) PROBATIONARY PERIOD.—The term ‘probationary period’ means the fiscal year in which a probationary country is placed in probationary status under this subsection.

“(B) PROGRAM COUNTRY.—The term ‘program country’ has the meaning given that term in subsection (c)(1)(B).

“(2) DETERMINATION, NOTICE, AND INITIAL PROBATIONARY PERIOD.—

“(A) DETERMINATION OF PROBATIONARY STATUS AND NOTICE OF NONCOMPLIANCE.—As part of each program country’s periodic evaluation required by subsection (c)(5)(A), the Secretary of Homeland Security shall determine whether a program country is in compliance with the program requirements under subparagraphs (A)(ii) through (F) of subsection (c)(2).

“(B) INITIAL PROBATIONARY PERIOD.—If the Secretary of Homeland Security determines that a program country is not in compliance with the program requirements under subparagraphs (A)(ii) through (F) of subsection (c)(2), the Secretary of Homeland Security shall place the program country in probationary status for the fiscal year following the fiscal year in which the periodic evaluation is completed.

“(3) ACTIONS AT THE END OF THE INITIAL PROBATIONARY PERIOD.—At the end of the initial probationary period of a country under paragraph (2)(B), the Secretary of Homeland Security shall take 1 of the following actions:

“(A) COMPLIANCE DURING INITIAL PROBATIONARY PERIOD.—If the Secretary determines that all instances of noncompliance with the program requirements under subparagraphs (A)(ii) through (F) of subsection (c)(2) that were identified in the latest periodic evaluation have been remedied by the end of the initial probationary period, the Secretary shall end the country’s probationary period.

“(B) NONCOMPLIANCE DURING INITIAL PROBATIONARY PERIOD.—If the Secretary determines that any instance of noncompliance with the program requirements under subparagraphs (A)(ii) through (F) of subsection (c)(2) that were identified in the latest periodic evaluation has not been remedied by the end of the initial probationary period—

“(i) the Secretary may terminate the country’s participation in the program; or

“(ii) on an annual basis, the Secretary may continue the country’s probationary status if the Secretary, in consultation with the Secretary of State, determines that the country’s continued participation in the program is in the national interest of the United States.

“(4) ACTIONS AT THE END OF ADDITIONAL PROBATIONARY PERIODS.—At the end of all probationary periods granted to a country pursuant to paragraph (3)(B)(ii), the Secretary shall take 1 of the following actions:

“(A) COMPLIANCE DURING ADDITIONAL PERIOD.—The Secretary shall end the country’s probationary status if the Secretary determines during the latest periodic evaluation required by subsection (c)(5)(A) that the country is in compliance with the program requirements under subparagraphs (A)(ii) through (F) of subsection (c)(2).

“(B) NONCOMPLIANCE DURING ADDITIONAL PERIODS.—The Secretary shall terminate the country's participation in the program if the Secretary determines during the latest periodic evaluation required by subsection (c)(5)(A) that the program country continues to be in non-compliance with the program requirements under subparagraphs (A)(ii) through (F) of subsection (c)(2).

“(5) EFFECTIVE DATE.—The termination of a country's participation in the program under paragraph (3)(B) or (4)(B) shall take effect on the first day of the first fiscal year following the fiscal year in which the Secretary determines that such participation shall be terminated. Until such date, nationals of the country shall remain eligible for a waiver under subsection (a).

“(6) TREATMENT OF NATIONALS AFTER TERMINATION.—For purposes of this subsection and subsection (d)—

“(A) nationals of a country whose designation is terminated under paragraph (3) or (4) shall remain eligible for a waiver under subsection (a) until the effective date of such termination; and

“(B) a waiver under this section that is provided to such a national for a period described in subsection (a)(1) shall not, by such termination, be deemed to have been rescinded or otherwise rendered invalid, if the waiver is granted prior to such termination.

“(7) CONSULTATIVE ROLE OF THE SECRETARY OF STATE.—In this subsection, references to subparagraphs (A)(ii) through (F) of subsection (c)(2) and subsection (c)(5)(A) carry with them the consultative role of the Secretary of State as provided in those provisions.”.

(e) Review of overstay tracking methodology.—Not later than 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Comptroller General of the United States shall conduct a review of the methods used by the Secretary of Homeland Security—

(1) to track aliens entering and exiting the United States; and

(2) to detect any such alien who stays longer than such alien's period of authorized admission.

(f) Evaluation of electronic system for travel authorization.—Not later than 90 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Homeland Security shall submit to Congress—

(1) an evaluation of the security risks of aliens who enter the United States without an approved Electronic System for Travel Authorization verification; and

(2) a description of any improvements needed to minimize the number of aliens who enter the United States without the verification described in paragraph (1).

(g) Sense of Congress on priority for review of program countries.—It is the sense of Congress that the Secretary of Homeland Security, in the process of conducting evaluations of countries participating in the visa waiver program under section 217 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1187), should prioritize the reviews of countries in which circumstances indicate that such a review is necessary or desirable.

SEC. 6. Expediting entry for priority visitors.

Section 7208(k)(4) of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 (8 U.S.C. 1365b(k)(4)) is amended to read as follows:

“(4) EXPEDITING ENTRY FOR PRIORITY VISITORS.—

“(A) IN GENERAL.—The Secretary of Homeland Security may expand the enrollment across registered traveler programs to include eligible individuals employed by international organizations, selected by the Secretary, which maintain strong working relationships with the United States.

“(B) REQUIREMENTS.—An individual may not be enrolled in a registered traveler program unless—

“(i) the individual is sponsored by an international organization selected by the Secretary under subparagraph (A); and

“(ii) the government that issued the passport that the individual is using has entered into a Trusted Traveler Arrangement with the Department of Homeland Security to participate in a registered traveler program.

“(C) SECURITY REQUIREMENTS.—An individual may not be enrolled in a registered traveler program unless the individual has successfully completed all applicable security requirements established by the Secretary, including cooperation from the applicable foreign government, to ensure that the individual does not pose a risk to the United States.

“(D) DISCRETION.—Except as provided in subparagraph (E), the Secretary shall retain unreviewable discretion to offer or revoke enrollment in a registered traveler program to any individual.

“(E) INELIGIBLE TRAVELERS.—An individual who is a citizen of a state sponsor of terrorism (as defined in section 301(13) of the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act of 2010 (22 U.S.C. 8541(13)) may not be enrolled in a registered traveler program.”.

SEC. 7. Visa processing.

(a) In general.—Notwithstanding any other provision of law and not later than 90 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of State shall—

(1) require United States diplomatic and consular missions—

(A) to conduct visa interviews for nonimmigrant visa applications determined to require a consular interview in an expeditious manner, consistent with national security requirements, and in recognition of resource allocation considerations, such as the need to ensure provision of consular services to citizens of the United States;

(B) to set a goal of interviewing 80 percent of all nonimmigrant visa applicants, worldwide, within 3 weeks of receipt of application, subject to the conditions outlined in subparagraph (A); and

(C) to explore expanding visa processing capacity in China and Brazil, with the goal of maintaining interview wait times under 15 work days on a consistent, year-round basis, recognizing that demand can spike suddenly and unpredictably and that the first priority of United States missions abroad is the protection of citizens of the United States; and

(2) submit to the appropriate committees of Congress a detailed strategic plan that describes the resources needed to carry out paragraph (1)(A).

(b) Appropriate committees of Congress.—In this section, the term “appropriate committees of Congress” means—

(1) the Committee on the Judiciary, the Committee on Foreign Relations, and the Committee on Appropriations of the Senate; and

(2) the Committee on the Judiciary, the Committee on Foreign Affairs, and the Committee on Appropriations of the House of Representatives.

(c) Semi-Annual report.—Not later than 30 days after the end of the first 6 months after the implementation of subsection (a), and not later than 30 days after the end of each subsequent quarter, the Secretary of State shall submit to the appropriate committees of Congress a report that provides—

(1) data substantiating the efforts of the Secretary of State to meet the requirements and goals described in subsection (a);

(2) any factors that have negatively impacted the efforts of the Secretary to meet such requirements and goals; and

(3) any measures that the Secretary plans to implement to meet such requirements and goals.

(d) Savings provision.—

(1) IN GENERAL.—Nothing in subsection (a) may be construed to affect a consular officer’s authority—

(A) to deny a visa application under section 221(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1201(g)); or

(B) to initiate any necessary or appropriate security-related check or clearance.

(2) SECURITY CHECKS.—The completion of a security-related check or clearance shall not be subject to the time limits set out in subsection (a).

(e) Effective period.—This section shall cease to have effect on September 30, 2015.