65 senators call to add Israel to US Visa Waiver Program

Doing so would “significantly increase the potential for both tourism and business travel,” they say.

By JNS

Allowing Israel to join the U.S. Visa Waiver Program would “significantly increase the potential for both tourism and business travel,” according to a letter penned by 65 senators to U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.

The move would allow Israelis, like citizens of countries already in the program, to be exempt from needing a travel visa for visits of up to 90 days.

“Approximately 450,000 Israelis travel annually to the U.S., and that number has been increasing each year. With 93 weekly direct flights from Israel to U.S. airports, there is already significant demand for travel,” the senators wrote. “As such, Israel’s participation in VWP would significantly increase the potential for both tourism and business travel.”

“In pursuit of these benefits for both countries, the Department of State and the Department of Homeland Security – particularly Ambassador Nides and the entire staff at the U.S. Embassy in Israel – and the Government of Israel have all worked diligently to enable Israel’s eligibility for VWP.”

“In January, Israel’s non-immigrant visa refusal rate fell below 3%, satisfying one key requirement of eligibility for the program, and since that time the Government of Israel has been working to implement the necessary
technical requirements for inclusion.”

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“Finally, Israel’s parliament has passed all of the legislation to facilitate requisite data sharing, which underscores Israel’s commitment to meeting the necessary benchmarks and gaining admission into VWP.”

Sens. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) and Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.) led the bipartisan group of legislators.

“Israel is a key U.S. ally and trading partner. Waiving the visa requirement for Israelis visiting America reflects these strong ties and will only deepen the relationship to the mutual benefit of both countries,” said AIPAC, which applauded the letter.