US plans to add Israel, Romania and Bulgaria to visa waiver program
US Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said on Tuesday that the United States plans to add four countries to its visa waiver program that allows citizens to come to America visa-free for a stay of up to 90 days.
“We have four candidates in the pipeline: Israel, Cyprus, Bulgaria and Romania,” Mayorkas said Tuesday at a travel industry event. “We are very, very focused on the program,” he added, saying the program offers significant economic and safety benefits. In September, the United States added Croatia to the visa waiver program. US Travel Association chief executive Roger Dow said on Tuesday Croatia represented a $ 100 million boost to the US economy. “Every time you add one of these countries, travel explodes,” Dow said.
In February, Mayorkas met with the European Commissioner for Home Affairs and both “expressed their continued interest in maintaining the Passenger Name Record agreement between the US and the EU and in working with Bulgaria , Croatia, Cyprus and Romania to qualify for the visa waiver program. . “To participate in the US visa waiver program, a country must meet the requirements related to anti-terrorism, law enforcement, immigration law enforcement, security documents and border management.
There are currently 40 countries in the program. “These requirements include a nonimmigrant visa denial rate of less than 3%, the issuance of secure travel documents and close collaboration with US law enforcement and counterterrorism authorities,” DHS said last month.
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