Student Union opens ‘hasbara’ room in effort to fill public diplomacy vacuum.
WASHINGTON (JTA) — The United States and Israel are creating a working group to help Israel advance toward joining the visa waiver program. “This is a goal of both the United States and Israel, and it would make travel easier for citizens of both countries,” Julia Frifield, the assistant secretary of state for legislative affairs, said in a letter sent Thursday to Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.).
The Department of Homeland Security is also part of the working group, Frifield said.
The letter was the first indication that the U.S. government is dedicating resources to facilitate Israel’s entry to the program, which allows travel without pre-arranged visas.
Two major obstacles have kept Israel from joining the program: Allegations by U.S. officials that Israel has discriminated against Arab- and Muslim-Americans seeking entry, and a proliferation of young Israelis traveling to the United States as tourists and then working illegally.
The maximum visa rejection rate for entry into the program is 3 percent, and Israel’s is at 9.7 percent, spiking up from a 6 percent average in recent years.
The letter from Frifield to Lowey outlined measures that would address concerns about visas denied because of suspicions that applicants planned to seek illegal employment, but did not touch the issue of discrimination, although State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki raised it last month, saying it was a core issue.
Among the measures outlined by Frifield in her letter were a review of practices affecting Israelis aged 21-26 who want to travel to the United States, more education about how best to obtain visas for such travel and expanding cultural exchange programs for young Israelis. Frifield said the State Department had reviewed the visa refusal rate for Israelis aged 21-26 and found it had doubled from 16 percent to 32 percent in 2013. She said the main factor in the increase was Israelis seeking work illegally and noted the visa approval rate for that age group was nonetheless relatively high.
“We know that despite a two-thirds approval rate, this increase has led to a perception by some that young Israelis are unwelcome to travel in the United States,” Frifield said. “Clearly that is not the case. Israel is one of our closest friends and allies.”
Lowey, who with other lawmakers led demands for a review of the visa rejection rate for young Israelis, praised the measures outlined by Frifield.
“I am pleased Embassy Tel Aviv and the State Department will undertake this full review of visa policies and have committed to making it easier — not more difficult — for young Israelis to travel to the United States,” she said in a statement.
About the Author:
If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.
In an alleged conversation, Obama demanded Israel agree to ceasefire, accept enemies as mediators.
Hamas has been promoting martyrdom on TV. And the more dead bodies they can show, the better.
A mother protects her baby as a siren goes off near the Gaza border.
Gaza’s Hamas rulers are battling the IDF — and now facing internal dissension as well, as families start protesting their ruined lives.
Half the population gone at any one time, but residents of Gaza Belt remain strong.
IDF soldiers are fighting in Gaza; Israelis are holding firm as massive rocket fire continues at home.
UNRWA has found a third set of rockets in a one of their schools. We’re sure they’re shocked.
A radar system might stop mortar attacks, but that doesn’t change the truism that “the best defense is a good offense.”
“He had a hopped-up ‘cycle that took off like a gun/That fool was the terror of Highway 101 – ‘ from the song “Black Denim Trousers.”
The Givati Brigade has foiled another attempted infiltration via a tunnel into Israel, killing five terrorists who might have murdered hundreds of Israelis.
PLO officials say ‘all’ terror factions agree to a 72 cease fire, but rocket fire continues as usual.
The lights are out again in Gaza, but it’s not clear who is responsible this time around. Does it matter?
There’s a battle going on for Jerusalem’s soul, and Cinema City proves you don’t need to compromise on Shabbat or Kashrut to be a success.
Global anti-Semitism is doing the ‘Gaza Strip’ and unveiling itself, no longer needing an excuse to hide.
A chief rabbi of the Netherlands said unidentified individuals hurled stones at his home in what he said was the second anti-Semitic attack on him in a week. Rabbi Binyomin Jacobs said the latest attack took place at 5 a.m. Thursday, when two stones were hurled through a window of his home in Amersfoort. An earlier incident outside his home […]
Wave of anti-Semitic graffiti, physical attacks spreads, this time to University of Oregon
Police in Berlin say about 1,000 demonstrators, most of them Palestinian, held an unregistered march protesting Israel’s actions in Gaza. Up to ten demonstrators were arrested for breach of the peace and for trying to forcibly free others already arrested in Saturday’s melee, a police spokesperson said. Rocks were thrown during the disturbance and a police officer was struck but […]
Leftists talk “peace” in Tel Aviv, but Arab family won’t accept condolence visit from Peres
38 year old man beaten with metal bars; Third of Malmö residents from Muslim-majority countries
A Jewish-Muslim family from Syria escaped from the country’s civil war to Israel.
Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/u-s-israel-teaming-to-push-israel-into-visa-waiver-program/2014/04/18/
Scan this QR code to visit this page online: