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Romania targets US visa waiver scheme inclusion

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Following a recent meeting between Romanian Interior Minister, Lucian Bode, and US Homeland Security Secretary, Alejandro Mayorkas, Romania has pledged to reduce its US visa rejection rate from 10% to 3% within ‘two to three years’. This would make Romania eligible for inclusion on the US visa waiver list.


The US visa waiver scheme allows citizens of eligible countries to travel to America for up to 90 days, visa-free. Romania is one of three European nations not currently included on the US visa waiver list, alongside Cyprus and Bulgaria, despite lobbying for years to secure inclusion.

Romania does currently meet all eligibility requirements for the US visa waiver scheme, expect having a US visa rejection rate that is 3% or less. Currently, the US visa rejection rate among Romanian citizens is 10%.


Goal to bring the figure down

Bode said: “Our American partners will provide us with a detailed analysis regarding why applications are rejected. It is a priority for the Romanian government to see that, in the next 2 - 3 years, the rejection rate decreases from 10%, the average of the last 8 years, to 3%, as required. 

“How? Through campaigns meant to educate the Romanian people and discourage the submission of inadequate applications,” Bode added.

Romania’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Bogdan Aurescu, proposed a similar campaign towards the end of 2021 following his own talks with Alejandro Mayorkas. 

According to Bode, many Romanians applying for US visas give up half way through the process. These applications are reportedly added to US tallies and causing the visa rejection rate to rise.

Meanwhile, Bode said that many Romanians have dual citizenship and hold a Moldavian, Italian or Spanish passport. He said that around three million Romanians live in Italy and Spain, but choose to apply for a US visa in Romania.


Determined to reach 3% mark

Bode insists that reaching the 3% mark to be eligible for the US visa waiver scheme is a top priority of the Romanian government. “Doing so will make it easier for our citizens to travel to the US for business or pleasure. This is the plan,” Bode said.

40 countries currently have US visa waiver eligibility, which allows people to enter the US for a maximum of 90 days without the need for a visa. The only requirement is to have entry authorization via the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA), which pre-screens passengers prior to entering the US.


Latest additions

The most recent addition to the US visa waiver scheme was Croatia in 2021. Prior to that, Poland was in included in 2019 – the first country to be included in five years. 

Meanwhile, Israel is also lobbying for inclusion in the US visa waiver scheme. In a meeting in August 2021, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett raised the issue of Israel’s inclusion in the VWP with President Biden at the White House.

At the time, Biden said: “Mr Bennett and I are going to direct our teams to work toward Israel fulfilling the requirements of the Visa Waiver Program and get that done.” can help with US employment-based visas

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