The US Embassy in Croatia has reportedly confirmed that the Balkan nation has officially been accepted into the US visa waiver scheme. After meeting the US visa refusal rate criteria, Total Croatia News reported that Croatian nationals will be free to travel to the US without a visa later this year.
Meeting the refusal rate criteria was the last stipulation set by the US before welcoming Croatia into the visa waiver scheme. According to official data, the refusal rate for Croatian nationals for US tourist and business visa applications fell to 2.69% in 2020, less than the 3% needed to qualify for the visa waiver scheme.
A tweet posted on the official Twitter account of the American Embassy in Croatia, confirmed the news of Balkan state’s inclusion in the US visa waiver scheme. This was the first time that official confirmation of US visa-free travel for Croatians had come from American authorities.
Visa refusal rate
The refusal rate for US tourist and business visas among Croatian nationals actually fell below 3% in September 2020, representing a huge step toward Croatia being accepted into the US visa waiver scheme.
Deputy American Ambassador to the Republic of Croatia, Victoria J. Taylor, said: “It’s official! The final rejection rate for Croatian tourist/business visa applicants fell to 2.69% last year, an important step forward in joining the US visa waiver program. We look forward to Croatians travelling to the United States visa-free in the near future.”
Ms Taylor thanked the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs of the Republic of Croatia, the Ministry of Interior Affairs of the Republic of Croatia and the Croatian government for their help in securing US visa-free travel for Croatia’s citizens.
In a tweet, she wrote: “Many thanks to @VladaRH, @mup_rh and @MVEP_hr for US-Croatia teamwork and substantive progress on key Visa Waiver Program (VWP) requirements, from data sharing to border security. We will continue to cooperate closely with Croatia and complete all remaining VWP requirements.”
Remaining EU member states
With Croatia welcomed into the US Visa Waiver Program, just three EU member states remain whose citizens are unable to travel to the US visa-free, including Bulgaria, Cyprus and Romania.
Cyprus claims that access to the US visa waiver scheme for its citizens is ‘edging closer’ after a meeting in Nicosia between Cyprus Foreign Minister, Nicos Christodoulides, Interior Minister, Nicos Nouris, and Justice Minister Giorgos Savvides with Assistant US Secretary of State for Consular Affairs, Carl Risch.
In January 2020, Croatia’s Interior Minister Davor Božinović made an impassioned plea for all EU member states to be included in the USA’s visa waiver scheme.
A report presented to the European Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) during a ministerial meeting in Brussels, stated that: “All EU member states should be treated equally in respect of the US visa waiver program. Currently, US citizens enjoy visa free travel to all EU countries. However, citizens of some EU member states are excluded from the US visa waiver program.”
At the time, Božinović said that the EU was ‘unanimous’ in its agreement over access to the US visa waiver scheme for all member states.
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