US Congress to debate visa exemption for Israelis - Israel News, Ynetnews

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American embassy in Tel Aviv Photo: Michael Kramer
American embassy in Tel Aviv Photo: Michael Kramer

US Congress to debate visa exemption for Israelis

New bill to be debated in Congress to promote exemption of Israeli citizens from entry visa, allowing free entry to US for up to 90 days

Yitzhak Benhorin
Published: 01.11.13, 08:54 / Israel News

The US Congress will debate a bid to exempt Israeli citizens from applying for an entry visa prior to visiting the US for periods of less then 90 days, for tourism and business purposes.


The Visa Waiver Program (VWP), which allows foreign nationals to visit the country without a visa, currently admits 37 countries, including western and central European countries, Japan, Singapore, Taiwan and Australia.


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The House of Representatives has voted for admitting Israel to the plan before, but the bid was rejected in the Senate.


הקונגרס האמריקני (צילום: AFP)

US Congress (Photo: AFP)


Israel has been asking to join the plan since 2005, but did not fulfill two basic terms: Not all Israelis have biometric passports, and the entry visa rejection percentage of Israelis is higher than 3%.


Another dispute is Israel's insistence on stricter security checks for Palestinian-US citizens entering the Jewish state. The US demands that they be subjected to the same security checks as any American citizen.


On Tuesday Congressmen Brad Sherman (D-CA) and Ted Poe (R-TX) will hold a press conference in favor of the bid. The two champion the initiative, which currently has the support of 26 representatives from both parties. Democrat Ron Wyden from Oregon is advocating the proposal in the Senate.



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