International Trade

Easing Foreign Visitors' Arrivals at U.S. Airports Gao ID: NSIAD-91-6 March 8, 1991

Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the issues and conditions affecting foreign visitors' entry into 10 U.S. international gateway airports and specific conditions at the airports, focusing on: (1) the federal inspection process; (2) airport services and facilities; and (3) visitor facilitation improvement projects.

GAO found that: (1) the International Civil Aviation Organization recommended 45 minutes as the maximum time that federal inspection services should allot from arrival to clearance of all arriving air passengers; (2) according to federal inspectors, visitor processing times usually ranged from 1 to 3 hours during peak hours; (3) airport authorities stated that processing sometimes took 4 or 5 hours during peak times at 3 airports; (4) all of the airports provided basic services, including ground transportation, some type of translation service, lodging information, directional and informational signs, baggage carts, and currency exchange, but the quality and extent of the services varied; (5) federal inspectors at 12 airports considered airport facilities inadequate; (6) federal inspection services have planned or recently completed various projects aimed at improving visitor facilities; and (7) individuals and organizations concerned with easing visitors' arrivals at U.S. airports proposed actions to aid the federal inspection clearance process, such as allowing U.S. citizens to bypass immigration inspection and raising additional funds by eliminating user fee exemptions.


Our recommendations from this work are listed below with a Contact for more information. Status will change from "In process" to "Open," "Closed - implemented," or "Closed - not implemented" based on our follow up work.

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