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.
IDF soldiers are receiving care packages from citizens all over Israel.
Rubio: Civilian deaths in Gaza “100 percent” responsibility of Hamas
Foreign Minister protests UNRWA storage of missiles, equipment in UN facilities.
US Secy of State John Kerry told reporters in Jerusalem there is “still work to be done” in trying for a cease fire with Hamas.
The IDF was forced to attack a Gaza City hospital on Wednesday when it became a Hamas terrorist base.
Outgoing President Shimon Peres thanks UN leader Ban Ki-moon but warns it is time to stop ignoring Hamas terrorism and help Israel.
Another UNRWA school is found to be a storage spot for untold number of Hamas missiles.
Former NY Mayor Michael Bloomberg defied a flight ban imposed by an Obama administration cowed by terror, flying to Israel with El Al.
Golani brigade commander was hospitalized after being wounded, but he returned to the battlefield to complete the mission.
The Ruderman Family Foundation rewards Jewish organizations for promoting inclusion of those with disabilities.
We mourn the dead, wish a speedy recovery to the wounded, and pray that God guides the government.
Israel’s transportation minister said cancelling flights to Israel is like handing a prize to terrorists.
Ban ki-Moon and John Kerry might have some credibility if they would talk peace with terrorists in Syria.
“Like all mothers of soldiers, I pray that this ends peacefully, that all the boys come home safe-and-sound,” Ruthie says.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon said Tuesday that he respects the legitimacy of Israel’s right to defend itself, but also called on Israel to limit its reaction to ongoing Hamas rocket fire at Israeli civilians. According to a report on the Hebrew-language Ynet website, Mr Ban also said his organization rejected the terror gang’s […]
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 […]
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.
From Australia to Argentina, Jewish communities mourn latest Palestinian atrocity.
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: