US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, has formally nominated Croatia to join the US Visa Waiver Program (VWP). Croatia will become the newest country to be added to the program and the first since Poland back in 2019. Blinken announced Croatia’s nomination for acceptance into the VWP on his official Twitter account.
Blinken tweeted: “Today, I nominated Croatia to join the Visa Waiver Program. This step towards visa-free travel recognizes Croatia’s tremendous progress to meet the rigorous standards for participant countries. We look forward to an even stronger US-Croatia relationship.”
In a longer statement by Blinken, issued via the US Embassy in Croatia, the US Secretary of State explained that following Croatia’s formal nomination a few steps remained to be completed before Croatians can officially enter the US without the need to apply for a US visa.
One of the final steps, among others, includes a final assessment by the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on Croatia’s eligibility to join the VWP.
However, Blinken did applaud the work of Croatian authorities to meet the stringent requirements for joining the US Visa Waiver Program, describing their work as ‘tremendous’ and thanked officials for their ‘dedicated and diligent work to reach this point’.
Blinken went on to highlight the benefits to Croatia of joining the VWP, saying: “Visa Waiver Program entry will have significant practical benefits for Croatians.”
“It will allow easier planning for short notice travel and trips such as shopping in New York, attending a cousin’s wedding in Pittsburgh, visiting the Grand Canyon in Arizona, attending a film festival in Austin, or delivering a research presentation in Boston,” he added.
In February, Workpermit.com reported that Croatia had met the condition of having a percentage of rejected applications for US tourism and business visas under 3%, which was an essential step for joining the VWP.
At the time, US ambassador to Croatia Victoria J. Taylor posted on Twitter: “It’s official! The final refusal rate for Croatian tourist/business visa applicants fell to 2.69% last year, an essential 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.”
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.
Remaining EU member states
With Croatia officially nominated for entry 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 Program 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.
Meanwhile, 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 Program.
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