16 November 2011

America visa checks eased for South Korea and Singapore nationals

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The United States has announced bilateral travel agreements with the Republics of Korea and Singapore, which would diminish border security and visa restrictions between these countries allowing ease of travel for citizens.

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The US has entered into Trusted Traveler Partnerships with Korea and Singapore, minimising immigration restrictions between these countries.

The US has extended an immigration olive branch to member states at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders meeting in Hawaii on Sunday, starting with in-principle agreements to form 'Trusted Traveler Partnerships' between the US and Singapore and Korea, which would reduce requirements of America visa and other immigration checks for nationals of these countries.

According to a statement released by the White House following the APEC leaders meeting, "these arrangements will allow eligible, pre-screened citizens to clear immigration and customs expeditiously using automated kiosks when travelling between the United States and these countries".

The US and Korea are quite advanced in their negotiations over the establishment of a Trusted Traveler Partnership are aim to have processes in place by January 2012.

The White House indicated that the partnership "would link the US Global Entry Program and Korea’s Smart Entry System" and would allow Korean citizens to avoid a face-to-face interview when entering the US, instead being eligible to pass through automated border gates.

"The United States and Singapore are committed to work towards a similar bilateral trusted traveler arrangement," the statement said.

"President Obama and Prime Minister Lee have instructed their respective officials to work closely and expeditiously to achieve this goal."

Meanwhile the President Barack Obama also used the APEC summit to announce the extension of the APEC Business Travel Card - which allows businesspeople to travel easily and securely within the Asia-Pacific region - to eligible US citizens.

"I just signed a piece of legislation that was voted on unanimously out of Congress that essentially sets up an APEC business gold card," Mr Obama said.

"Everybody here appreciates it because they're not going to have to wait in line as long at the airport."

Both schemes are part of the US' Travel Facilitation Initiative, a multi-year program to allow for a greater flow of movement between APEC nations.

"These programs will provide time-saving benefits for Americans traveling to APEC economies and highlight the Administration's commitment to deepening engagement with the Asia-Pacific region," the statement said.

The American Visa Bureau is an independent migration consultancy specialising in helping people with their ESTA visa application.

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