U.S. Ambassador to Brazil, Thomas Shannon, reported this week that the U.S. is preparing to grant some two million visas to Brazilians planning on traveling to the U.S. in 2013. Last year, the U.S. granted a million visas; so the ramp up this year aims at a 100 percent increase. Ambassador Shannon made this announcement at the opening of the new Porto Alegre consulate, and stated that visas could be granted out of the new consulate by the end of the year.
In 2012, the U.S. consulate in São Paulo issued 527,200 visas; Rio de Janeiro issued 292,000, Brasilia granted 123,000, and Recife issued 78,000 visas.
The opening of the Porto Alegre consulate and Ambassador Shannon’s announcement of the rapid expansion of U.S. visas for Brazilians reflects the U.S. effort to deepen relations with Brazil. Under President Obama, the U.S. has taken measures to engage Brazil and satisfy outstanding demands, including facilitating travel between the two nations. Of course, waiving the need for visas would be a much more efficient way of advancing relations, but this rapid increase in visas could be an important step toward a visa waiver policy.