The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Business Travel Cards Act of 2011 was signed into law by the President this past weekend. Sponsored by Representative Larsen and Senator Cantwell, the law allows business persons and certain government personnel to expedite their visa processing and travel processing and access to designated airport travel lanes, to facilitate their travels.
“The president’s signature on this bill means American business men and women will be able to travel more freely to the Asia-Pacific region, expanding opportunities to export American goods to these important markets,” Rep. Larsen is quoted as saying on his website. “This travel card will level the playing field for American business people traveling overseas, giving them the same expedited travel benefits that foreign travel card holders enjoy when they come to the United States.”
The Travel Cards Act authorizes the Department of Homeland Security to work in coordination with the Department of State to develop cards for qualified travelers to use, to expedite their travel. Qualified persons will be able to have their visa applications reviewed faster, take multiple trips to the 21 APEC countries for three years without obtaining new visas, and use the same customs and immigration lanes at airports that air crews use. The Department of Homeland Security already has multiple trusted traveler programs, such as NEXUS, and so presumably these programs will be the model for processing APEC card applicants.