What is the importance of nonimmigrant visas issued for visitor travel to the United States?
Spending by Mexican visitors represents an important input to the retail and service sectors of Arizona’s economy. According to 2014 estimates, approximately 10M Mexican visitor parties travel to the state annually and spend an average of $247 per trip. This spending generates a total impact of about $2.5 billion annually, and supports over 30,000 jobs throughout the state. Along with border crossing statistics, nonimmigrant visas issued provides a measure of the volume of visitor travel by Mexican nationals to the United States. In 2016, the districts nearest to Arizona, Nogales and Hermosillo in Sonora issued 52,657 and 83,164 nonimmigrant visas, respectively. Figure 1 displays the number of nonimmigrant visas issued at districts in Mexico border states and Mexico City in 2016.
Figure 1. Nonimmigrant visas issued at districts in Mexico border states and Mexico City.
What is measured?
Nonimmigrant visas represent an aggregate total consisting of B-1, B-2, B-1/B-2 combination and Border Crossing Cards (BCCs). The B-1 visa is also known as a business visa, and is issued for visitors participating in business activities including consulting, attendance at conferences or teaching, selling an estate, or participating in short-term training. B-2 visas are issued for tourism purposes such as vacation, visiting family, attendance at special events; they are also issued for visitors seeking medical treatment. B-1 and B-2 visas are generally issued for a period of 1-6 months but can last up to ten years (22 CFR 41.112 (b)(2)). Nonimmigrant visas require an application, face to face interview, proof of family ties and employment back home and valid documentation such as passport and photo. The Border Crossing Card combines the privileges of a B-1 and B-2 visa. Known as a "laser visa", it has specialized features such as advanced graphics and technology. To qualify, visitors must meet all criteria for the B-1 and B-2 visas, be a citizen and resident of Mexico and demonstrate ties in Mexico that would compel the visitor to return at the end of their stay. All BCCs are valid for a period of 10 years. In 2016, 97.8 percent of B-type visas adjudicated and issued to Mexican nationals were for BCCs. Figure 2 below displays the share of each visa type in 2016.
Figure 2. Share of B-type visas issued by type to Mexican visitors (total all Mexico) in 2016.
How Arizona compares?
Typically, a visa is valid for 10 years and allows application for admission at U.S. border ports of entry, however, the exact duration of each trip is determined by a customs officer at the time of entry and stamped on the visa. Over the past ten years, a total of 1.3M nonimmigrant visas have been issued by the Nogales and Hermosillo districts combined. This means that there are over a million eligible visitors to Arizona who may make frequent trips for business, tourism or related reasons. By comparison, 5.1M have been issued at districts bordering the state of Texas (Ciudad Juárez, Matamoros, Monterrey, and Nuevo Laredo) and 1.1M at Tijuana (adjacent to California). Figure 3 below displays the 10 year moving totals by district in Mexico border states and Mexico City.
Figure 3. 10 year moving totals of nonimmigrant visas issued in Mexico border states and Mexico City in 2016.
Applications for nonimmigrant visas are made at the consular office at the visitor’s place of residence. The table below displays all consular districts in Mexico that issue nonimmigrant visas. Visas can also be issued outside of the districts below, for example, a Mexican national residing in the United States with a valid visa can apply for change in visa status. The latter would not be included the figures below.
The map tool below displays nonimmigrant visa totals by Mexican consular district from 2007 to 2016. Use the slider to advance the year; you can also click on a district to see a trend graph for that location.
Nonimmigrant visa statistics (including Border Crossing Cards) are collected from the United States Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs.
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