30 October 2012

US Visa Waiver Program inclusion causes massive boost in e-passport applications

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The Taiwanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs has reported a 25% increase in e-passport applications in the last week compared to the previous year due to the state's inclusion in the US Visa Waiver Program.

US visa

The prospect of being allowed to visit the US without a visa has caused a huge upsurge in e-passport applications in Taiwan.

Taiwan was confirmed earlier this month as the 37th country to join the US Visa Waiver Program (VWP), which allows citizens of member countries to enter America without a US visa for 90 days.

Thomas Chen, the director-general of the Taiwanese Bureau of Consular Affairs, said the bureau had issued over 95,000 e-passports since the start of October, a 25.5% increase on the same period last year.

E-passports now account for almost half of all Taiwanese passports in use; they are machine-readable and feature an International Civil Aviation (ICAO)-compliant chip which is required to visit the US under the VWP.

Taiwan will officially become part of the VWP, which already includes the UK and Ireland as well as the majority of Europe, on 1 November; the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Seattle, Washington has said the first group of Taiwanese tourists landing in the city this week will be greeted by a welcome banner at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

The American Visa Bureau is an independent migration consultancy specialising in helping people from Visa Waiver Program (VWP) countries make their ESTA application.

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