The US on Wednesday officially announced that Israel has been accepted to its Visa Waiver Program and Israeli citizens will now be able to enjoy the benefits of the program.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and US Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas presented the certificate of approval.
On Tuesday, Axios reported that Blinken signed a letter recommending that Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas allow Israel to join the US Visa Waiver Program.
It is estimated that implementation of the process will take a few weeks, and that during November, Israelis will already be able to enter the US without needing to present a visa, as they have been required to do until now.
Registration for the US Border Control’s ESTA system, which provides the visa exemption, includes a questionnaire (in English) in which the traveler is asked various questions. The exemption received is then valid for a period of two years.
The system is mainly intended for tourists and short-term business trips, and allows the traveler to remain in the US for up to 90 consecutive days.
Those who require a longer permit for purposes of study, work, or immigration will still be required to turn to the Embassy in order to receive a visa.
Recently, Israel’s Foreign Ministry published an announcement praising the exemption, sparking anger in the US State Department over the premature announcement.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken wrote on X today: “Israel is now the 41st member of the Visa Waiver Program. This important achievement represents a critical step forward in our strategic partnership that will enhance freedom of movement for U.S. citizens.”
US Embassy in Israel Charge d’Affaires Stephanie Hallett remarked: “Let me be among the first to say congratulations. We are excited to welcome Israel as the 41st country into the Visa Waiver Program. At its heart, this program will further strengthen the ties between our two countries and, more importantly, between our people.”
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