Washington has announced a drop in the visa refusal rate for Romanian applicants.
Whereas Romanians can now travel freely across Europe with our country’s 2007 EU accession, in order to enter US territory they need to obtain a visa from the US Embassy. Under these circumstances, Bucharest authorities have promised Romania’s accession to the Visa Waiver program remains a top priority both in their dialogue with representatives of the US administration and in their talks with US Congressmen.
The Visa Waiver program allows citizens from Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Poland and Romania to travel to the United States for tourism or business over a maximum period of 90 days without the need of a visa. The program was founded in 1986 with the purpose of eliminating useless barriers, stimulating the US tourist sector and allowing the State Department to channel its consular resources to other fields. In order to a state to become eligible for joining the program, its Government must guarantee mutual support, adapt its passport verification technology and implement biometric identification systems. Furthemore, the country must have a low rate of illegal migration, while its visa refusal rate should be low at national level.
Washington has recently announced a drop in the visa refusal rate for Romanian citizens in the 2012-2013 fiscal year, from 17% last year to 11.5% in 2013. The Romanian Foreign Ministry has hailed the announcement, adding that the drop continues the downward trend of the last four years. According to the Ministry, the drop in the visa refusal rate, correlated with the possible modification of the US legislation regarding accession criteria for the Visa Waiver program, might lead to the lifting of visa restrictions for Romanians travelling to the United States.
At the end of August in an article carried by the Washington Post, four former US Ambassadors to Romania, James Rosapepe, J.D. Crouch, Michael Guest and Mark Gittenstein have pleaded in favour of modifying accession criteria for the Visa Waiver program, which would allow applicant countries more chances of joining the program. During his last visit to the United States, Prime Minister Victor Ponta said that the United States is wrong to deny Romania accession to the Visa Waiver program, considering our country’s status of ally and strategic partner of the United States.