04 November 2010

Taiwan reaches US Visa Waiver Program requirements

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Taiwan has met the requirement to be included in the US Visa Waiver Program, although there is no news as yet when the country may be included in the program, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) official said.

ESTA

Taiwan is one step closer to gaining entry into the US Visa Waiver Program.

Part of the requirements to be considered for inclusion in the US Visa Waiver Program (VWP) is for a country to have a visa refusal rate below 3 per cent.

Taiwan's US Visa refusal rate for the fiscal year 2010 was 2.2 per cent, a great improvement over 4.4 per cent the previous year, said Bruce J.D. Linghu, director-general of MOFA's Department of North American Affairs.

While this result is a large step forward to Taiwan's inclusion in the Visa Waiver Program, which means tourists and travellers to the US need only apply online for an ESTA rather than a lengthy and costly US Tourist Visa,   there are still other requirements Taiwan must meet.

Taiwan must also meet enhanced law enforcement and security-related data-sharing with the USrequirements, as well as maintain high counterterrorism, law enforcement, border control, and document security standards.

The US has expressed concern over Taiwan's passport-application-and-issuance procedure, which does not require travelers to apply in person and is usually undertaken by travel agencies.

William Stanton, director of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), has said in a recent interview that Taiwan's inclusion in the VWP "is not a political problem but a legal issue” resulting from Taiwanese citizens not being required to apply for passports in person.
A new procedure will be tested in Taiwan next year requiring citizens to complete a passport application in person, which will then be implemented nationwide.


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