18 April 2013

Polish Ambassador hopeful of joining US Visa Waiver Program

Poland's Ambassador to the United States Ryszard Schnepf has said he is hopeful Poland will be permitted to join the US Visa Waiver Program.

US visa

Poland's Ambassador to the US is hopeful of joining the Visa Waiver Program.

The US Visa Waiver Program (VWP) allows passport holders from member countries - which include the UK and Ireland - to enter the US for up to 90 days without the need for a US visa. Membership is a coveted status within the international community and Poland has been lobbying for membership for some time.

Legislation supporting Poland's membership was introduced to the American Houses of Congress in February and Ambassador Schnepf has said he is optimistic about the legislation's chances of success.

"We have a good start. This is an initiative that has a chance of success," said the ambassador. "Our optimism grows."

“[Polish Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski] Minister is more sceptical than I am but said he wanted to lose this bet."

Requirements for the VWP include a visa overstay rate of less than 3% and a visa refusal rate below 10%; Poland's US visa application refusal rate was 9.3% in the 2012 fiscal year.

Poland's attempts to join the VWP have been favourably received by most American politicians but in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombing last week, Republican Representative Steve King suggested the VWP may need a review should it transpire the bomber was a foreign citizen.

"We need to take a look at the Visa Waiver Program also, and wonder what we're doing," said Representative King.

"If we can't background check people that are coming from Saudi Arabia, how do we think we're going to background check 11 to 20 million people from who knows where."

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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