US to add Cyprus to its visa-waiver list

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Cyprus is in the queue to be granted US waiver status, being one of only three EU states not to enjoy the travel privilege.

US Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said the United States is considering adding four countries to its visa waiver program that allows citizens to visit America without a visa for a stay of up to 90 days.

“We have four candidates in the pipeline: Israel, Cyprus, Bulgaria and Romania,” Mayorkas said on Tuesday at a travel industry event.

“We’re very, very focused on the program,” he added, saying the program provides significant economic and security benefits.

In September, the US added Croatia to the visa waiver program.

US Travel Association Chief Executive Roger Dow said adding Croatia is a $100 mln boost to the US economy.

“Each time you add one of these countries, the travel just booms”.

In February, Mayorkas spoke with the European Commission’s Commissioner for Home Affairs.

Both “expressed their continued interest in maintaining the US-EU Passenger Name Record Agreement and working with Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, and Romania to meet the qualifications for the Visa Waiver Program.”

To participate in the US visa waiver program, a country must meet counterterrorism, law enforcement, immigration enforcement, document security, and border management requirements.

There are currently 40 countries in the program, and Cyprus’ improved relations with Washington has moved it close to the list.

“These requirements include having a rate of nonimmigrant visa refusals below 3%, issuing secure travel documents, and working closely with US law enforcement and counterterrorism authorities,” DHS said last month.

All the other 24 EU states already have waivers. (source Reuters)