Campaign Promises

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Consular AffairsGrade
ST-12 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 (individuals with an extraordinary ability in the sciences, education, business, or athletics), O-1B (individuals with an extraordinary ability in the arts or extraordinary achievement in motion picture or television industry) or O-2 (an individual who will accompany an O-1 visa applicant who has critical skills and experience with the O-1 visa applicant that cannot be readily performed by a U.S. worker and which are essential to the successful performance of the O-1 visa applicant), and P-1B (Member of Internationally Recognized Entertainment Group) non-immigrant visas to enter the USA to perform.

As of end-CY2016, artists filing State's I-129 Form (Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker) had to allow 5.5 months for their applications to be processed. Dependent upon individual applicant circumstances, the processing time could be longer or shorter.

The processing times typically required since the terrorist attacks of 09/11/01 are as follows:
- O-1A, O-1B and O-2: 60 to 90 days
- P-1B: 2 to 5 months
The above processing times could be longer or shorter, depending upon applicant circumstances and application completeness. 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" could be adjudicated within 15 calendar days upon payment of a premium processing fee (currently $1,225.00).

As of end-CY2016, the USCIS web site reflected 60-90 days as the norm for processing "O" (Extraordinary Ability) visas and 3-6 months for "P" (Athletes, Artists and Entertainers) visas. These processing times can be reduced to 15 days upon payment of a hefty ($1,000+) surcharge.

This promise was fulfilled.
ST-13 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 are examples of consulates that have either been opened, reopened or were planned under the State Department's Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations (OBO):

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

With the exception of Afghanistan, where security concerns caused the cancellation of plans to open a Consulate in Mazar-e-Sharif in CY2012, and Iraq where security is sometimes tenuous, 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 regime of President Bashar al-Assad intensified its efforts to crush internal dissidence.

This promise was not fulfilled.