Tuesday, September 05, 2006

US Agency: Don't Expect Visa-Free Travel for Poland Too Soon

The U.S. Government Accountability Office, the congressional watchdog formerly known as the General Accounting Office, released a report on the visa waiver program on Tuesday. The agency comes up with some general recommendations, but in a separate letter to the head of the House Committee on the Judiciary, a GAO official writes something quite interesting about the countries seeking for the U.S. to drop visa requirements for their citizens:
It does not appear there will be any expansion of the Visa Waiver Program in the short term, because despite ongoing progress, these countries will still fall short of the program'’s statutory requirements.
Not that this is the last word, but it certainly shows that neither Poland nor the other 12 countries, mainly the new EU members, can expect visa-free travel any time soon. Not sure what the definition of "short term" is, but I bet it's not months, but rather years.

What requirements are we talking about? Well, it's things like:
  • issues related to meeting biometric and other technical and security criteria
  • reporting lost and stolen passport information
  • and public affairs campaigns regarding the implications of violating the terms of visas.
Keep in mind Poland is still not part of the Schengen passport-free zone in Europe. That has to happen before U.S. drops visa requirements.

1 comment:

beatroot said...

Indeed. I bet the visa thing has come up in discussions about the possible anti-missile system in Poland. The thing is, Polish governments cannot keep giving everything to the US without appearing to get anything back. People here think it is a bloody cheek.

I have a biometric passport, however, so will they still let me in?