Opening Remarks at Press Availability
Grand Millennium Hotel, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Thank you it’s great to be here in Kuala Lumpur today. I’m looking forward to a very productive series of meetings today.
But first, I wanted to take a minute to speak about the importance of people-to-people ties in our relationship, and the importance our government places on making sure the process of applying for a visa to the United States is as efficient and fair as possible.
Our Department of Commerce estimates the number of potential visitors to the United States will increase four percent annually for the next six years, and could surpass 84 million visitors by 2018. The United States’ National Travel and Tourism Strategy aims to increase that figure to 100 million international visitors by 2021. Increasing travel by Malaysians to the United States is part of this effort.
I encourage Malaysians to apply for visas for tourism and to do business in the U.S. We approve almost 95 percent of all Malaysian non-immigrant visa applications. These visas are usually valid for ten years, so Malaysian visitors can enjoy all the United States has to offer, year after year.
The U.S. is also great place to study. In fact, 96 percent of Malaysian students who applied to study in the United States last year were approved. There educational options in the United States are incredibly diverse, and I encourage Malaysians who are considering studying in the United States to consider the wide variety of universities and colleges available.
Worldwide, wait times for student visa interview appointments are less than 15 days. Here in Malaysia, the wait time is 1 day. We prioritize these appointments because of the tremendous intellectual, social, and economic benefits foreign students provide.
I want to stress that the U.S. visa procedure is identical for all Malaysians, regardless of whether you are Malay, Chinese, Indian, Orang Asli (pronounced OH-rahng US-lee), or other ethnic backgrounds. In the United States, we do not discriminate based against people on race, religion, or national origin.
The visa process in Malaysia is fast and easy. Next business day appointments are available and 99% of approved applicants can collect their visa the next day.
We have made a lot of progress the past several years in making our visa process more efficient and welcoming for visitors to the United States and we’ll continue to do so in the future.
With that, I am happy to take a few of your questions. Thank you.