Romania will remain on a list of three EU members whose citizens require a visa to travel to the US, according to Romania’s foreign affairs minister, Bogdan Aurescu. The announcement comes amid a high US visa refusal rate among Romanian citizens. A stipulation of US visa-free travel for another country’s citizens is a visa refusal rate below 3%.
However, the current US visa refusal rate among Romanian nationals is between 9 and 10%, though this is expected to drop. Having watched Poland and Croatia secure US visa-free travel for their citizens in recent years, Romania was hoping to become the latest country to be welcomed into the program.
Romania, Cyprus and Bulgaria are the only EU members who do not have access to the US visa-free travel scheme. Prior to Croatia’s acceptance into the scheme, the country’s interior minister, Davor Božinović, argued that the US visa waiver program should be open to all EU member states.
Strict US legislation
Announcing Romania’s continued non-acceptance into the US visa waiver program, Mr Aurescu said: “It is, after all, the result of American legislation, which is quite strict and provides a series of requirements. We met all these requirements provided by the US legislation, except for the one referring to the refusal rate.”
“The refusal rate limit under US law - that is, the percentage of visas that are not granted when applying for these short-stay visas in the United States - is 3% of the total number of applications. […] At the moment, we stand at around 9 – 10%,” Aurescu added.
Mr Aurescu said that he has discussed US visa access for Romanians with American officials, and said that both sides would ‘work together to find out the exact reasons why the US visa refusal rate among Romanians is at 9 – 10%’.
Based on these findings, Romania’s foreign affairs minister said that the Romanian government would then launch an information campaign for its citizens looking to apply for a US visa. Mr Aurescu claimed that the campaign would ensure that Romanian US visa applicants fully understand the conditions for entry into the US.
The campaign will also urge applicants not to apply for a US visa if they have no chance of obtaining one, to prevent the refusal rate from worsening and harming Romania’s acceptance into the US visa waiver program.
Aurescu said: “If every Romanian citizen knows where they stand, they know not to apply for a US visa if there is no chance of their application being accepted. As a result, the visa rejection rate will drop.”
European Union unanimously agrees
Back in 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,” the report added.
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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