Tourists face long US visa waits if budget cuts hit
WASHINGTON (AFP) - Tourists and business people seeking visas to visit the United States could face even longer waits at already swamped US embassies if severe budget cuts kick in at the State Department.
It was increasingly apparent that no legislative solution will be ready before automatic budget cuts - the so-called sequester - kick in on Friday, forcing a wide range of government agencies to trim services.
Faced with ballooning demand, the State Department had embarked on a hiring surge to recruit more consular officers to deal with the rising volume of traffic, deputy acting spokesman Patrick Ventrell said Thursday.
But if the sequester takes effect the department will be forced to cut back its programs, including consular services, he warned.