United States Includes Israel In Visa Waiver Program

United States Includes Israel In Visa Waiver Program

Israeli nationals have joined a growing list of countries granted visa-free travel to the United States.

United States President Joe Biden and his administration announced that Israel would be added to the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), granting Israeli nationals visa-free access to the United States starting on November 30, 2023.

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas made the designation at the recommendation of Secretary of State Antony Blinken after a trial period to determine whether Israel fully met the program’s strict requirements.

This policy change also bears a reciprocal aspect, signifying that all United States citizens will, in turn, have the privilege to request visa-free entry into Israel under the terms of the bilateral reciprocity agreement.

The Importance of Joining in the US Visa Waiver Program

The Visa Waiver Program allows travellers from approved countries to stay in the US for up to 90 days without a visa. 

The addition of Israel would enable Palestinian-Americans to fly in and out of Ben Gurion Airport visa-free.

Israel has long had different requirements for Palestinian Americans, including denying them entry at Ben Gurion International Airport near Tel Aviv for visits to the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, forcing them to travel through Jordan or Egypt like other Palestinians.

Israel, in recent months, has taken action to change those entry requirements, allowing Palestinian Americans to fly in and out of Ben Gurion airport, and has pledged to ease movement for Palestinian Americans travelling in and out of the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.

To secure its place on the VWP list, Israel had to “meet requirements on issues such as counterterrorism, law enforcement, immigration enforcement, document security, and border management.” The approved countries must also “treat all US travellers equally,” meaning Palestinian-Americans have free passage through Israel’s main airport.

The US and Israeli governments tested the program with a successful pilot launched on July 20.

In two months, Israeli nationals will simply need to fill out an Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) form a few days before travelling to the United States for tourist or business, with a maximum stay of 90 days.

Israel becomes the 41st nation in the Visa Waiver Program, with Croatia being added most recently in 2021. Citizens who are not part of the US Visa Waiver Program needs to apply for a visa to enter the US. To know more about the US Visa Application, reach out to IaM.

Do you have plans to visit the United States? Talk to us in the comment section below. Or if you need more advice on the above, contact us for further travel & immigration advice.

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