The United States is considering including Israel, Romania and Bulgaria in its visa waiver program.

Reuters. File photo: During the outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at Phoenix International Airport in Phoenix, Arizona, USA on September 24, 2021, air travelers are crossing a sign that the mask is mandatory for all. REUTERS / Mike Blake / File photo

By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – US Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said on Tuesday that the United States was considering adding four countries to its visa waiver program that would allow citizens to come to the United States without a visa for up to 90 days.

“We have four candidates in the pipeline: Israel, Cyprus, Bulgaria and Romania,” Mayerkas said at a travel industry event on Tuesday. “We are very, very focused on the program,” he added, adding that it provides significant economic and security benefits.

In September, the United States added Croatia to the visa waiver program. Roger Dao, chief executive of the U.S. Travel Association, said Tuesday that Croatia has added $ 100 million to the U.S. economy. “Every time you add one of these countries, travel only increases,” Dao said.

The White House said in August President of Israel After a meeting between Joe Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, Prime Minister-Minister-Naftali-Bennett-of-Israel Biden stressed that “his administration will strengthen bilateral cooperation with Israel to benefit both US citizens and Israeli citizens, visa (NYSE 🙂 Working together on Israel’s inclusion in the waiver program. “

Mayorkas met with the US ambassador to Israel in August and discussed the issue of remission.

In February, Mayercas spoke with the European Commission’s home affairs commissioner and both expressed “their continued interest in maintaining the US-EU passenger name record agreement and in fulfilling the visa waiver program with Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus and Romania.”

To participate in the program, a country must meet requirements related to counter-terrorism, law enforcement, immigration enforcement, document security, and border management.

The program currently has 40 countries.

“These requirements include non-immigrant visa rejection rates below 3%, the issuance of safe travel documents and working closely with U.S. law enforcement and counterterrorism authorities,” DHS said last month.

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