Citizens of Israel had visa-on-arrival and even visa-free entry into 152 countries and territories across the world, as of February 2018, with the Henley Passport Index ranking the Israeli passport at #22 in terms of travel freedom. And, while the Independent reported in November 2017 that the US was considering adding Israel to its Visa Waiver Program (VWP), which is a list of countries that can travel to America without needing to first obtain a visa, no decision regarding changes to Israel visa status have been taken thus far.
Reasons for Not Implementing the VWP for Israel
Adding Israel to the VWP has been delayed for several reasons.
The Visa Waiver Program is sensitive in itself, since it allows foreign nationals to enter US territory without the additional checks that are usually conducted before a visa is granted. For this reason, it is crucial for the US to ascertain that a country fits all safety criteria. According to Israel National News, the demand to access Israel’s complete database by the US for security scanning is adding to the delays. However, on a positive note, the US now is allowing Israeli citizens to renew their visa online, without the need for a personal interview.
According to a statement released by the US Embassy in Tel Aviv, “Any Israeli citizen who currently holds a valid tourist visa or a visa which expired within the last 12 months and was over the age of 14 when he or she received the last visa is eligible for the new visa renewal process.”
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