U.S. issued record 8.9m visas in 2012

The State Department issued a record 8.9 million non-immigrant visas in fiscal year 2012, out of 11.1 million applications, and more foreign students are studying in the United States than at any other time in history, Assistant Secretary of State for Consular Affairs Janice Jacobs says on this week’s episode of “Conversations with Nicholas Kralev.”

Jacobs also says the department has decided not to conduct visa interviews via videoconferencing, despite pressure from the tourism industry and the private sector in general. In large countries like Brazil and Russia, some visa applicants have to travel long distances in order to appear in person at a U.S. embassy or consulate, which many cannot afford. Even though the technology exists, videoconferencing is not as efficient and secure as in-person interviews, Jacobs says.

A Foreign Service officer since 1980 and a two-time ambassador, Jacobs was appointed to her current post in 2008, during the Bush administration. On the program, she also talks about managing U.S. visa operations around the world, and the challenges of consular work in the Foreign Service.

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