US Considers Four Countries for Visa Waiver Program
The United States is considering adding 4 countries to its Visa Waiver Program (VWP), according to Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.
If the decision is taken, nationals of these countries will be able to visit the USA visa-free for tourism and business.
At present, Cyprus, Romania, and Bulgaria are the only EU countries whose nationals still need a visa to enter the US. However, US citizens don’t need a visa to visit any EU country. The European Commission has been trying to meditate to achieve “visa reciprocity” with the US.
To enter the country without a visa, they will simply have to register with the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) by completing a quick online form.
The candidates for inclusion in the VWP include Bulgaria, Cyprus, and Romania and Israel.
Enabling citizens of these countries to enter visa-free with an ESTA would make travelling to the US much easier and bring a boost to the US tourist industry.
Croatia was added to the US Visa Waiver Program in September 2021, making it the most recent member. Its inclusion brought the total number of VWP countries to 40. The addition of Croatia to the VWP added a $100 million boost to the US economy, according to Travel Association Chief Executive Roger Dow.
Membership in the US VWP
The US Visa Waiver Program currently consists of 40 countries.
Travellers with passports issued by these countries can visit the United States visa-free for up to 90 days. The trips must be for tourism or business and they can also transit through the USA without a visa.
To enjoy these benefits, visitors must register their details online to obtain the ESTA visa waiver. This takes a matter of minutes and once registered, the individual can enjoy visa-free travel to the US for the next 2 years.
To join the VWP, countries must meet certain requirements. These include meeting certain standards in the following areas:
- Law enforcement
- Immigration enforcement
- Document security
- Border management
According to the Department of Homeland Security:
These requirements include having a rate of nonimmigrant visa refusals below 3%, issuing secure travel documents, and working closely with US law enforcement and counterterrorism authorities.
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