the WHITE HOUSEPresident Barack Obama

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The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release

Presidential Memorandum -- Establishing a National Goal and Developing Airport Specific Action Plans to Enhance the Entry Process for International Travelers to the United States

MEMORANDUM FOR THE HEADS OF EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENTS AND AGENCIES

SUBJECT: Establishing a National Goal and Developing Airport Specific Action Plans to Enhance the Entry Process for International Travelers to the United States

The U.S. travel and tourism sector is critical to the Nation's prosperity and drives economic growth. In 2013, international visitors alone supported more than 1.3 million U.S. jobs.

Executive Order 13597 of January 19, 2012 (Establishing Visa and Foreign Visitor Processing Goals and the Task Force on Travel and Competitiveness), mobilized the Federal Government to increase visa processing capacity, expand the Visa Waiver Program, and expand expedited traveler programs, all without compromising national security requirements.

The National Travel and Tourism Strategy, published 2 years ago, set a target of attracting and welcoming 100 million visitors by 2021, which the United States is on track to meet. To ensure we properly welcome and process those visitors at our airports, I am directing the Secretaries of Commerce and Homeland Security (Secretaries) to develop a national goal for improving service levels for international arrivals, including the time passengers spend waiting for primary inspection, i.e. passport control, and other steps of the arrival process. The Secretaries shall also develop airport-specific action plans that include actions from both private and public sectors to measurably improve the entry experience and reduce the wait time for international arrivals to those airports. The goal and action plans shall be consistent with efforts that have already demonstrated significant improvements through partnership between the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and international airports, such as improvements at Dallas-Fort Worth and Chicago O'Hare over a 12-month period that have resulted in average wait times of just 15 minutes and reduced the percentage of travelers with more than 30-minute wait times from 29 percent to 14 percent.

The purpose of this goal and action plans is to maximize the economic contribution of travel and tourism for business, leisure, academic, medical, and other lawful purposes by improving the experience of international travelers coming to the United States, in particular their experience with passport control and customs processing at airports in the United States.

 

The experience of an international arrival at one of our airports is not limited to the interaction with the U.S. Government. Airports, airlines, and local governments figure heavily into the arrival's experience -- and they have an essential role to play in creating a positive first impression. Therefore, as part of the action plans, the Secretaries will identify opportunities for private and nonfederal public sector actors to help achieve the goal, and ask for their public commitment to take specific actions to improve the entry experience for international guests.

By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, and in order to remove barriers to traveler entry while continuing to protect our national security, public health, and safety, I hereby direct as follows:

Section 1. National Goal for Improving the Entry Process for International Arrivals. (a) Within 120 days of the date of this memorandum, the Secretaries shall, in consultation with the Tourism Policy Council established by the United States National Tourism Organization Act of 1996, National Security Council, National Economic Council, Council of Economic Advisers, Office of Management and Budget, Secretaries of State, Agriculture, Transportation, and Health and Human Services, and other executive departments and agencies (agencies) as appropriate, develop the following:

(i) in consultation with private and nonfederal public actors, a national goal for improving the experience of international arriving passengers, including expediting the arrival and entry process for international visitors to the United States. In developing the goal, the Secretaries shall consider all steps the Federal Government can take to improve the arrivals experience, including by expediting primary inspection and customs clearance, while maintaining public health and national security. In addition to steps to be taken by agencies, the Secretaries shall identify opportunities for both private and nonfederal public sector actors to help achieve the goal; and

(ii) in consultation with airlines, airport authorities, worker representatives, State and local governments, and appropriate private and nonfederal public actors, airport-specific action plans to measurably improve the international arrivals' experience and reduce the processing time for international arrivals in at least 15 U.S. gateway airports. The action plans shall draw upon the lessons and successes of the targeted pilot efforts that demonstrated significant service level improvements and wait time reductions at Dallas-Fort Worth and Chicago O'Hare airports. These action plans could include automating paper Customs and Border Protection Form I-94, implementing Automated Passport Control kiosks, expanding the DHS Global Entry program, and airports entering into voluntary partnerships with stakeholders to provide increased services on a reimbursable basis.

 

(b) In developing the goal and action plans as set forth in subsection (a) of this section, the Secretaries shall establish metrics for measuring progress in implementing the action plans and achieving service-level improvements, taking into account the Federal Government's responsibility to protect the safety, public health, and national security of the United States and its visitors. These metrics shall include measurements of wait times that consider the entire arrivals process (from landing to exiting the airport), private sector effects on the arrivals process, and traveler perceptions of their experience.

(c) In developing the goal and action plans, the Secretaries shall consult with existing non-governmental entities and advisory councils with relevant expertise and experience, such as the Travel and Tourism Advisory Board within the Department of Commerce, for continued input and advice.

Sec. 2. General Provisions. (a) Nothing in this memorandum shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect:

(i) the authority granted by law to an executive department, agency, or the head thereof; or

(ii) the functions of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget relating to budgetary, administrative, or legislative proposals.

(b) This memorandum shall be implemented consistent with applicable law, and subject to the availability of appropriations.

(c) This memorandum is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.

(d) Independent agencies are strongly encouraged to comply with the requirements of this memorandum.

BARACK OBAMA