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Americans and Europeans will Lose in Visa War

April 2017, 25
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Americans and Europeans will Lose in Visa War
Both Americans and Europeans are likely to lose out in visa restrictions, including visa-free travel. The US has recently refused to allow citizens of some of the newest EU member countries visa-free travel to the US. The response from the EU has been a “show of hands” to deny US citizens visa free travel. In practice the vote may never lead to actual restrictions but it is a worrying development in continuing visa restrictions across the globe. 

Members of the European Parliament voted to decide US citizens should face more stringent procedures for entry to European Union states. The US is failing to meet a deadline of commitment concerning visa reciprocity, where countries or free trade areas agree to apply the same visa rules for each and all citizens. Under this principle, restrictions for EU citizens in the US will likely see the same new rules applied to US citizens visiting Europe. 

If the restrictions by the EU do progress the EU commission has two months to impose them and may do so for a period of 12 months.

America declined visa-free travel from recent EU member states including Romania, Poland, Croatia, Cyprus and Bulgaria. There are also potential plans for all EU nationals to face stricter entry procedures under the B1 and B2 visa schemes. These are the basic business visitor (B1) and tourist visa (B2). Currently, there is a B1/B2 waiver for EU nationals, who can enter the US for 90 days using the online system – ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization). Those qualifying for and using the ESTA system do not have to go through US Embassy or Consulate interviews. The ESTA system is currently used by 38 countries including the UK, Ireland, and Australia. Poland, Bulgaria, Croatia, Romania and Cyprus are not currently eligible for the ESTA waiver system.

The developments are causing concern both for those wishing or needing to travel to the US and for the US tourist industry as travellers are deterred by visa worries. Visa restrictions for the US and Europe have both economic and political implications for all.

The developments in the US stem from concerns over terrorism and the new stance of the Donald Trump presidency which has also seen restrictions to fast processing for H1B visas. There are also rumours of further impact to the H1B scheme, which allows skilled foreign workers to be hired by US employers.

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