Well, I agree that the economic problems in Spain and Greece are much worse--but I wasn't trying to say "woe is us" just pointing out that relatively, things have gotten much worse for most Americans during the past 10 years; and that this may be why they are not as welcoming as they used to be in years past.
It's been a couple of years since we were last in the US, but on the whole I felt quite welcome to be honest. I find Americans generally speaking quite open people and very friendly, at least on the surface. We found in particular that Americans were much friendlier to our kids than the average stranger is here in Australia.
The country is amazing to travel in, just don't get bogged down in a suburban city because that's not the attraction. The real attraction is the stunning scenery that is all over the country. Rainer Dynszis, you shouldn't give up on your idea to do a road trip across the US. There is so much to see and a road trip is the perfect way to take it all in! Be sure to take the smaller roads and get off the highway regularly.
Immigration hassles aside (which are certainly rather annoying), I think it's overall still a fairly easy place to travel to and around and am looking forward to visiting again later this year.
I helped 3 TP members buy vans this last summer. All 3 drove around the US and had a great time. Jens & Anders were here 6 months and raved about how welcoming Americans were. They went from Vegas to Florida, up the east coast, back to Calif and sold their Expedition in Vegas. The other 2 couples wish they could of stayed longer. If the US was not a pleasant experience, they would of told me.
Millions come every year and I am sure the vast majority would rate the experience as positive. If the President can change a few rules that encourage tourism, then I am all in favor of the changes.
Look, this country, like every other has some problems. But to say it's not an interesting and wonderful place to explore is shortsighted. There is a tremendous amount to see and do.
Since 9/11 the Government of the country has been gripped with a paranoia and it certainly shows at immigration, where things have gotten a lot worse rather than better. And while part of that is fear of terrorism, part certainly is fear of illegal immigration, due to large numbers of people who've stayed illegally in the past believing that this is the land of opportunity.
That's the same fear that a lot of countries have, it's why they insist on seeing an outgoing ticket, or check papers when you visit. We all know there is an underground job market for travelers in a lot of countries and the US is no exception.
Yet, like in most countries, once you get through immigration, you can have a great time and you'll find few restrictions beyond corporate (car rental policies, etc), financial, or practical ones restricting your travel.
if Obama can make it easier for people to come and travel I'll applaud the effort. We all deserve to be able to see the world, and if the US is on your list of places to see I hope you get the chance. It really has some beautiful and amazing places.
All I know is that when I was in Turkey and Georgia last year, several people told me how difficult it was for them to obtain a US Visa. Immigration has a policy of picking and choosing those it wants to let in.
[ Edit: Edited on 30-Jan-2012, at 15:58 by Daawgon ]
People from developing countries often have trouble getting into developed countries (because the reality is that a high percentage will stay on illegally). It's no surprise that people in Turkey and Georgia have those issues getting to the US.
Where we are born is the first lottery of life and you're lucky if you get born with a citizenship to a developed country. Privilege from the day we are born, even if we're not born into wealthy families.
I have talked to ladies in Thailand, VN & Philippines. They have told me how difficult it is to get a visa to visit the US. Why? Just what Peter stated. From past experience, US Immigration has determined that citizens from certain countries tend to overstay their visa and try to work or live in the US illegally. By making it difficult to obtain a US visa, our Immigration officials are trying to reduce illegal immigration to the minimum. Every country has the right to secure their borders and decide who can enter. Historically, the US encouraged people from all over the world to visit our country. That changed on 9-11-2001. Now we want to know that the person trying to enter is not a threat to the country and will leave when their visa expires. The same criteria that every country follows. This is the new reality of international travel. We all have to adapt to the changes and challenges of the 21st century.
I don't think getting into the US was really any easier for people from Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, Philippines prior to 2001. That's been clamped down on for a very long time already. Maybe it changed a little, but that has really been tough for a long time for people from outside the US.
What change dramatically though was all the posturing, fingerprinting, taking off shoes, patting down and other security measures that are meant to guard against terror attacks. Maybe they help in some small way. They certainly don't make other nationalities feel welcome when they arrive. I think this change is more evident for visitors from other developed countries who previously could get in relatively easily. Visitors from developing countries have always had a pretty tough time.
Seems to me the very easiest way to both enter this country and to overstay one's visa is to enter on a student visa. Portland State University, the largest university in Oregon, and the location where I walk my terrier every day, must have a foreign student population approaching 50%. Let's face it, we need foreign money in this country.
Our country has only recently started to seriously protect our borders (one leader thinks the solution is a billion dollar electronic fence, and the next guy in power rips it up). I think Washington needs to get it's act together before we call this country "safe". Everyone here laughs when they talk about the TSA and their body cavity scans of old ladies - just watch Saturday Night Live reruns on NBC! Any really intelligent terrorist could find many holes in both our borders and our airport fences
I have talked to ladies in Thailand, VN & Philippines. They have told me how difficult it is to get a visa to visit the US.
Maybe that says more about the type of women you hang out with in those renowned sexpat countries!
By making it difficult to obtain a US visa, our Immigration officials are trying to reduce illegal immigration to the minimum.
Oh dear, Mike you poor misguided man, You've been listening to too much CNN and Fox news again! the stringent Immigration policys at the borders have nothing to do with the safety of USA. Its the usual smoke screen for government misdoings. As usual in the US it has everything to do with turning a profit. You can go to any chicken packing plant, or meat packing plant and find plenty of illegal immigrants. You think the government knows about them? They sure do, but lobbyists working for those industries pay big money to government officials to stay out of those areas.
Then we have the TSA, another inefficient government body that is creaming money out of the tax payers, for what? safety!? ha ha how naive.