Two weeks after the United States President Donald Trump promised to the President of Poland Andrzej Duda on the sidelines of the annual UN General Assembly that Polish people would soon travel to the US visa-free, the US Department of State has formally nominated Poland for entry to the US Visa Waiver Program (VWP).
According to a statement from the press secretary regarding the nomination of Poland for entry into the Visa Waiver Program issued on October 4, 2019, the Department of State has formally nominated Poland for entry into the Visa Waiver Program, on the same day.
“This is an important step in continuing to increase economic, security, cultural, and people-to-people connections between our two nations,” the statement reads.
It further adds that now that Poland has been nominated, the Department of Homeland Security will take necessary action, as soon as possible, to assess Poland’s entry into the program.
“If Poland is designated as a Visa Waiver Program country, its nationals would be authorized for visa-free travel to the United States for business and tourism. The bilateral relationship between the United States and Poland has never been stronger,” explains the statement published by the White House, further estimating that this step would serve as a remarkable accomplishment for both countries.
At beginning of September, Trump’s vice president, Michael Pence, told President Duda that Poland is almost ready to join the Visa Waiver Program, in a meeting with Duda in Poland, where he traveled to participate at the observances marking the 80th anniversary of the start of World War II and for meetings with Polish leaders.
Currently, Polish citizens are the only Schengen citizens who need a sticker visa to travel to the US, while the rest can do so by only obtaining an ESTA authorization. For Poland to join this program, it should have a visa refusal rate of less than 3%, which for now for Poland is just a bit under 10%. On the other hand, around 10 million Poles live in the United States, making them one of the country’s biggest ethnic minorities.
Aside from Poland, four other non-Schengen EU countries – Bulgaria, Croatia, Romania and Cyprus – are not part of the US Visa Waiver Program, which means their citizens have to obtain a B1/B2 visa when traveling for tourism or business purposes to the United States.
In 2016, the European Commission had urged the US authorities to provide Poland and the other four with the right to travel visa-free just like the majority of EU citizens, what hasn’t happened yet.
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