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European Commission - Statement

Joint Statement by Commissioner Avramopoulos and Elaine C. Duke, Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, on advancing towards full visa waiver reciprocity between the EU and U.S.

Valletta, 16 June 2017

Secure visa-free travel between the EU Member States and the United States is a cornerstone of our strategic partnership and brings important benefits to the transatlantic relationship by allowing every year millions of EU and U.S. citizens to easily travel in a secure environment between our continents.

Achieving visa-free travel to the United States of America for all EU citizens has been a political priority for the EU as a whole for over a decade.

U.S. citizens can travel visa-free to all EU Member States for up to ninety days, while citizens of Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Poland and Romania are required a visa to travel the United States of America for business or tourist purposes.

The U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) sets forth a series of requirements for each country's initial participation in the U.S. Visa Waiver Program, which include, but are not limited to, a rate of refusal on applications for nonimmigrant visitor visas of less than three percent during the previous fiscal year. Before designating any country into the U.S. Visa Waiver Program, the Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Secretary of State, must consider the impact of that country's designation on U.S. security and law enforcement, to include immigration enforcement, interests.

Information sharing regarding serious crime, known or suspected terrorists, and lost and stolen travel documents are essential requirements for a country's initial and continuing participation in the U.S. Visa Waiver Program.  The EU and its Member States cooperate closely with the United States, and this cooperation should be further reinforced in the areas of traveler screening and enhanced information sharing, including through the exchange of biometric data for purposes of law enforcement and immigration enforcement. 

The 15-16 June 2017 EU-U.S. Justice and Home Affairs Ministerial meeting endorses a cooperative approach to preserving and, if possible, expanding visa-free travel between the EU and the United States while respecting U.S. law.

The European Commission and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security intend to step up efforts to improve security cooperation with a view to assisting Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Poland and Romania in advancing more rapidly towards the fulfilment of the requirements for designation in the U.S. Visa Waiver Program.

The European Commission and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security intend to discuss progress made by Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Poland and Romania on fulfilling the requirements for designation in the U.S. Visa Waiver Program at future Home Affairs Senior Officials' meetings and to monitor such progress at regular tripartite technical meetings between the European Commission, the five EU Member States, and the United States. 

 

For More Information

Joint EU-U.S. press statement following the EU-U.S. Justice and Home Affairs Ministerial Meeting

STATEMENT/17/1671

Press contacts:

General public inquiries: Europe Direct by phone 00 800 67 89 10 11 or by email


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