Israel campaigns for inclusion in US visa waiver program

Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked expressed optimism Jan. four that the US will settle for Israel into its visa waiver program. Several European nations already take pleasure in this program, which permits their residents to arrive within the US and get a vacationer visa upon arrival, as an alternative of the lengthy and complex strategy of asking for a visa in advance.

Shaked stated her ministry had completed answering 250 questions from American authorities concerning Israeli rules and knowledge. The subsequent step is for a US Homeland Security Office delegation to debate the difficulty additional. Such a delegation is anticipated in Israel by the tip of the month, although no particular date was talked about.

The minister instructed journalists, “We will have to decide on the way we will receive data and transfer it to the Americans. We will have to set up an automated digital system that would enable American immigration to submit queries over Israeli criminal records. The last step from our side would be reducing the percentage of (visa requests) refusal to 3 percent.” 

That refusal price is without doubt one of the important situations set by Washington for including Israel to this system. According to some publications, most of the Israelis refused are children discharged from the military who search to travel within the US earlier than enrolling in college. Apparently, American authorities usually suspect that these children intend to settle illegally within the US. Shaked denied that this was the case.

She estimated that by November 2022 her ministry will know if the aim of three p.c had been met. “40 percent of the refusals stem from incorrect filling of the visa request forms, from adding non-standardized pictures to the forms or from parents who do not attach a picture of children to the forms,’’ she said.

Another step concerns American nationals who are also Palestinians and living in Palestinian territories. These people often arrive to the West Bank from Jordan or to the Gaza Strip from Egypt. Shaked said that Israel is prepared to enable them transit through its territory. 

Offering Palestinian-Americans domiciled in the territories an Israel-transit option “is a demand by the Americans going again a few years,” she said. “The Shin Bet can deal with it, and within the context of the visa waivers – if that course of does certainly occur – an American who additionally has Palestinian citizenship will be capable of enter Israel like every American.” The deal might be concluded by February 2023.

Shaked added that her ministry was additionally addressing US complaints over Arab-Americans subjected to unusually intrusive questioning by Israeli airport safety. One potential resolution might be for Israeli safety companies to obtain airline passenger lists 12 hours in advance, to allow extra selective screening. 

An incident of this kind occurred Jan. 2, although the particular person in query was British. Bethan McKernan, a Guardian correspondent in Jerusalem, wished to board an El Al flight from Holland again to Israel the place she lives and works legally. Reports declare that after El Al safety employees found that her partner is named Muhammad, she was questioned for lengthy hours, till she missed her flight.

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