Campaign Promises

Cabinet/Departments -> State -> Consular Affairs

Consular AffairsGrade
The Promise: "...will streamline the visa process to return America to its rightful place as the world's top destination for artists and art students."
When/Where: Obama-Biden Plan: "Champions for Arts and Culture", dated 09/11/08.
Status:Since 09/11/01, artists and art organizations faced considerable red tape and bureaucratic delays when applying for O-1A, O-1B or O-2 (for Individuals with Extraordinary Ability or Achievement), and P-1B (Member of Internationally Recognized Entertainment Group) non-immigrant visas to enter the USA to perform. As of end-CY2011, artists filing State's I-129 (Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker) had to allow 45 days for their applications to be processed.

To mitigate this issue, the Homeland Security U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) announced on 07/23/10 that artist/art student visa applications filed by "creative organizations" would be adjudicated within 14 days. This was a great improvement over the 45-120 days processing time typically required since the terrorist attacks of 09/11/01 -- unless a petitioner paid an additional $1,000 premium processing fee.

As of early-CY2013, the USCIS web site reflects 14 days as its national goal for processing "O" (Extraordinary Ability) and "P" (Athletes, Artists and Entertainers) visas. The web site also indicates that, on average, this goal is being met.

Promise fulfilled.
The Promise: "...will stop shuttering consulates and start opening them in the tough and hopeless corners of the world - particularly in Africa."
When/Where: Obama-Biden Plan for America: "Blueprint for Change" dated 10/09/08.
Status:Since President Obama came into office in 01/09, the following consulates have either been opened, reopened or are planned under the State Department's Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations (OBO):

Afghanistan: Herat, Mazer-e-Sharif, Kandahar and Jalalabad
China: Guangzhou
Iraq: Basra and Erbil
Kazakstan: Almaty (Upgrade from Embassy Branch Office to Consulate)
Egypt: Alexandria
Mexico: Monterrey and Tijuana
Equatorial Guinea: Malabo
Morocco: Casablanca
Saudi Arabia: Dhahran

With the possible exception of Afghanistan (if that country is not stabilized by the time U.S. completes "transitioning" out in CY2014) and Iraq where security is tenuous at best, none of the other sites are considered "tough and hopeless," -- not even the two African sites.

On the "shuttering" side, the State Department closed the U.S. Embassy and consular activities in Syria on 02/06/12 as the Assad regime intensified its efforts to crush internal dissidence.

This promise is not being fulfilled.