Comments by Sanwar Ali:
As previously reported, seems like good news for Croatia. Under Trump US visa policy overall tends to be restrictive and unhelpful. Fortunately for Croatia, the US is going out of its way to make sure that they can join the US visa waiver scheme. If in future Croatia is included in the scheme, applying online under the ESTA visa waiver scheme is much simpler and faster than waiting on a queue at the US Embassy for a six month B1/B2 visit visa. Unless you wish to enter the US for six months or have some other good reason to apply for a visit visa at the Embassy or Consulate, it is probably preferable to come under the visa waiver scheme. It seems quite likely that Croatians will be able to do this soon.
Unfortunately, at the moment due to the Coronavirus situation many people will not wish to visit the US from Croatia. If you come back from the US to Croatia then you will usually need to complete a 14 day quarantine period. Many people will find it very inconvenient doing this.
However, Croatians are encouraged to apply now for a US visit visa. This should guarantee acceptance under the US visit visa waiver scheme which will benefit Croatians in future.
According to a report published in Croatian daily newspaper, Večernji list, Croatia is just ‘one step away’ from acceptance in the US visa waiver scheme. Subject to Croatian nationals being issued with 2,000 US visas this month, the Balkan state will be eligible for America’s visa waiver program.
The Croatian Foreign Ministry is now urging civil servants and people working in the banking and business sectors to apply for US visas and said that it’s ‘almost certain they will be approved.’ This will help Croatia’s US visa rejection rate drop below 3% by the end of September, which is the last requirement the Baltic state must meet.
Prior to the coronavirus outbreak, Croatia was on course to meet the final requirement for acceptance into the US visa waiver scheme. However, the pandemic brought travel to a halt and US visa applications slumped massively.
Croatian encouraged to apply by end of September to help Croatia!
However, time is running out for Croatia, with the US fiscal year set to end on 30 September, at which point Croatia’s US visa rejection rate will be taken into account. Should Croatia bring its rejection rate below 3% by this date, visas will be waived from 2021.
Should Croatia fail to meet this target, then the Baltic state will enter a new fiscal year and the monitoring of rejections will start all over again. However, the Croatian Foreign Ministry says that meeting the target ‘seems very likely’.
In addition to reaching a lower rejection rate target, it’s important that Croatia has good political relations, meets technical standards – including having modern technical equipment, has operational border services, security data processing and sharing, plus passports that meet the highest standards, according to the Večernji list.
US visa waiver program difficult to join
Poland was the latest country to be accepted into the US visa waiver scheme, almost a year ago. Poland was the first to be accepted in five years, highlighting how challenging it can be to qualify for the US visa waiver scheme.
The US visa waiver scheme for B2 visitors and B1 visitors for business makes it much easier to visit the US for up to 90 days.
At the start of this year, Workpermit.com reported that Croatia’s Interior Minister, Davor Božinović, was pushing for the US visa waiver scheme to be available to all European Union member states.
At the time, Božinović said: “During the most recent European Parliament Committee meeting, it was evident that the EU is unanimous with regard to US visa free travel for citizens of all EU member states.”
However, Božinović’s comments prompted questions about the treatment of migrants by Croatian police, following criticism from some members of the European Parliament about the conduct of law enforcement officers in the Balkan nation.
Božinović replied, saying: “Our position is clear. We will not allow illegal entry into Croatian territory and that has nothing to do with the right to international protection. We are open when it comes to anyone who is in need.
“However, Europe and the world have to find a response to the question of how to treat migrants who are seeking a better life and refugees.”
Should Croatia be granted US visa waiver status, just three EU member states would be left that are not part of the scheme Bulgaria, Cyprus and Romania.
Workpermit.com can help with E1, E2, L1, H1B and B1 in lieu of H1B, B1 Business Visit Visas, E3 Visas and other types of US Visas
For more information, or to find out if you are eligible for a US work visa, contact WorkPermit.com on 0344 991 9222