A steady drumbeat of voices for Poland’s inclusion in the Visa Waiver Program is becoming deafening as Congress considers visa reform legislation.
Nowy Dziennik, a Polish-language newspaper published in New York launched a new online campaign to raise awareness at dropvisasforpoland.org.
David Harris, the executive director of the American Jewish Committee wrote an opinion piece for the Chicago Tribune in October refreshing American memories of all the times Poland has stood by the United States during wartime and has been a pivotal ally.
“Ask any Pole,” Harris wrote. “I have on many occasions and always received the same answer: The issue is seen as a slap in the face to Poland and its traditional friendship with the U.S.”
U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, a Democrat from New Jersey, mentioned Poland’s eligibility for the VWP as he sponsored legislation called the Enhanced Security and Reform Act to update the program.
“Since the end of the Cold War, Poland has become one of the United States’ strongest allies, and it makes sense that we should change the law governing visa waivers to reflect the world we live in today,” Pascall said in a press release.
The Visa Waiver Program was started in 1986 as a way to cut down on administrative costs and to promote goodwill between the United States and individual countries. Citizens of the 36 countries on the list are able to travel to the United States for tourism or business without a visa for up to 90 days. To get on the VWP and to remain on it, countries must have advanced passport security technology and a low non-immigrant refusal rate.
Poland misses out on the VWP because its refusal rate is too high, which means the consular officers there believed that many of the visa applicants would overstay their 90-day trip. Some advocates of reform have suggested using actual overstay numbers instead of refusal rates to determine eligibility.
Citizens of countries that must go through the visa process to visit the United States on vacation or business must wait longer, fill out more forms, pay more fees and sit through interviews with their consulate. Advocates of keeping the VWP list short say the consular interviews and forms help keep the United States safe. All moves to open the borders for tourists or businesspeople no matter where they are from is going to be met with caution from the Department of Homeland Security.
Poland is on the short list of “road map” countries being considered for inclusion in the VWP.
A. Banerjee is a Houston immigration lawyer in Texas. Before selecting an immigration lawyer in Houston Texas, contact the Law Offices of Annie Banerjee by visiting their information filled web site at http://www.visatous.com.