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Israeli foreign minister pledges US visa waiver for Israelis ‘in coming months’

The prime minister announced in March the fulfillment of all legislative requirements for citizens to receive visa exemptions.

An Israeli passport with visa and entry stamps. Credit: Israel.Travel.
An Israeli passport with visa and entry stamps. Credit: Israel.Travel.

Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen said on Sunday night that Israel was making progress in getting visa exemptions for citizens who wish to travel to the United States.

“Today, we hosted representatives of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to discuss the progress of the necessary steps,” he said.

“We are working so that already in the coming months Israelis will be able to fly to the U.S. without the need for a visa,” Cohen added.

In late March, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that the country had completed the legislative requirements for citizens to receive exemption from U.S. visa requirements.

The U.S. Visa Waiver Program allows citizens of participating countries to enter the United States by obtaining a tourist visa upon arrival at a U.S. port of entry. This saves them the considerable trouble of first securing a visa from a U.S. embassy or consulate in their home country.

“Entry into the Visa Waiver Program is a complex and laborious process,” the U.S. embassy said in January.

“The government of Israel must meet all requirements to enter the program, and a lot of work needs to be done in a very short amount of time. First, the Knesset is going to have to act. There are three laws that will need to be passed for Israel to qualify for the Visa Waiver Program.

“Second, the Israeli government, across government ministries, will have to move quickly to set up the many technical requirements needed to become eligible for the Visa Waiver Program. These are specific to data sharing and traveler screening, including information systems that have to be developed, then implemented, and tested.

“The window for Israel to complete these actions and pass the required laws closes in September 2023, which is the end of the U.S. fiscal year,” the embassy said.

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