Rubio Joins Rosen, Scott and Colleagues in Letter to State Department, DHS in Support of Israel’s Participation in Visa Waiver Program – Press Releases
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Washington DC – US Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Rick Scott (R-FL) and a bipartisan group of Senate colleagues sent a letter to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and US Secretary to Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas asking Israel to be eligible for the visa waiver program. This program allows citizens of participating countries to travel to the United States for business or tourism for stays of up to 90 days without first obtaining a visa from a U.S. consulate abroad.
“We believe that adding Israel to the list of eligible countries would accomplish the two explicit missions of the VWP program: to strengthen national security and to boost the US travel and tourism industry. the senators wrote. “Israel – our closest ally in the Middle East – is a perfect candidate for the Visa Waiver program. “
“Travel and tourism-related industries are driving job creation and economic growth in the states of America, from Nevada to Florida and everywhere in between, where these industries and the workers they employ are absolutely critical.” to the prosperity of States ” the senators continued. “According to the US Travel Association, Israel’s addition to the VWP could add more than 450,000 visitors from Israel to the United States over a three-year period, which is expected to generate $ 3.6 billion in economic output and support approximately 6,000 American jobs. We urge the US State Department to officially designate Israel for the VWP and DHS to use its authority to certify Israel as a country eligible to participate in the program.
For a complete list of co-signers, click on here.
the full text of the letter is inferior to.
Dear Secretary Blinken and Secretary Mayorkas:
We are writing to support Israel’s certification as an eligible country for participation in the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), which allows citizens of participating countries to travel to the United States on business or tourism for stays ranging up to 90 days without first obtaining a visa from a US Department of State (DOS) officer at a consulate abroad. We believe that adding Israel to the list of eligible countries would accomplish the two explicit missions of the VWP program: strengthening national security and boosting the US travel and tourism industry.
Israel – our closest ally in the Middle East – is a perfect candidate for the visa waiver program. Under the VWP, countries must issue electronic passports, communicate information on all passports lost and stolen in the United States through the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL), and share information on travelers. likely to constitute a terrorist or criminal threat1. If Israel entered the VWP, these measures would enhance law enforcement and counterterrorism cooperation between the United States and Israel, which would deepen our relationship with a key ally and trading partner. Israel is also an economically prosperous country that is a major security partner of the United States, presenting a high-volume, low-risk opportunity to add to the program.
Israel’s addition to the VWP will also directly support tourism to the United States. One of the most important security criteria recently added to the VWP was the requirement for preclearance through the Electronic Travel Authorization System (ESTA), which is administered by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). ESTA checks traveler’s information against relevant law enforcement and security databases and determines VWP travel eligibility. Additionally, travelers who use ESTA must pay a fee, which is used to directly support travel and tourism to the United States. ESTA fees, collected from every VWP traveler, are the primary source of funding for Brand USA, the country’s public-private partnership dedicated to increasing international visits to the United States through the promotion of international travel. As such, increasing the number of applications through ESTA by adding Israel to the VWP will directly support tourism and travel to the United States, which is our country’s top service export, generating a trade surplus of 59. billion dollars in 2019. What’s more, new Israeli travelers to the United States will invest in our local businesses – from hotels and restaurants to live events and attractions.
Travel and tourism-related industries drive job creation and economic growth in the US states, from Nevada to Florida and everywhere in between, where these industries and the workers they employ are absolutely essential to prosperity. States. In fiscal 2019, 22.9 million non-immigrant visitors, arriving through the VWP, made up almost one-third of all visitor entries to the United States. According to the US Travel Association, Israel’s addition to the VWP could add more than 450,000 visitors from Israel to the United States over a three-year period, which is expected to generate $ 3.6 billion in economic output and support about 6,000 American jobs.
The global COVID-19 pandemic has severely affected the U.S. travel and tourism industry and its workforce, as travel restrictions have prevented foreign visitors from coming to the United States. The US Travel Association estimates that for every 35 overseas travelers who decide to visit the United States, an additional American job is created. The US Department of Commerce’s National Travel and Tourism Office (NTTO) reports that 19.4 million international travelers visited the United States in 2020, down 75% from the 79.4 million non-immigrant visitors in 2019. As the United States seeks to continue its economic recovery, now is the time to invest in our travel and tourism businesses and workers by encouraging visits to the United States, especially from countries to low risk and high volume like Israel.
We urge DOS to officially designate Israel for VWP and DHS to use its authority to certify Israel as an eligible country for participation in the program. Thank you for your attention to this important matter.