The Celebrate Israel Festival on May 31 at Pier 94, slated to be the largest gathering to date of Israeli-Americans in New York.
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.
Comments are closed.
The US decides “no more extensions” as international nuclear talks with Iran come down to the wire.
Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky expresses his firm support for Efrat Chief Rabbi Shlomo Riskin.
With temperatures soaring, everyone is getting in the water…
Flash floods and more rain in Texas means a rising death toll and desperate people searching in kayaks.
Perhaps surprisingly, the Netanyahu government voted Wednesday to form a new ministerial committee on Arab affairs.
Shurat HaDin calls for expulsion of PA soccer chief Rajoub for inciting terror – hours before Swiss arrests of FIFA officials for various charges of corruption.
Rabbi Riskin believes the Rabbinate must be prepared to accept Halachic decisions that aren’t Ultra-Orthodox.
The case also called for banning the sale of French satire magazine Charlie Hebdo and the Liberation newspaper in Egypt over “blasphemy against Prophet Mohamed.”
Saed Erekat: Israel first must agree to all of our terms before we negotiate.
The temperature is expected to reach extreme levels today, drink water.
“In the chaos of the conflict… Hamas…granted its security forces free rein to carry out horrific abuse, amounting to war crimes.”
The Israeli Air Force responded to a rocket attack from Gaza by striking terrorist sites within the Strip.
Information on more than 100,000 US taxpayers was stolen by hackers who breached the IRS.
Hamas terrorist leaders are hiding again as Israel considers a response to Tuesday’s rocket attack.
More than 20 cars and buildings in a Jewish community in north London were vandalized with swastikas. The Nazi symbol was drawn on approximately 27 cars in the Osbaldeston Road area of Stoke Newington on Sunday night, The Daily Mail reported. An unnamed 32-year-old man was arrested in connection with the vandalism Tuesday. The neighborhood […]
New York State Assemblyman Dov Hikind called on the Jewish community to attend the funeral of an assassinated New York police officer. “The brave men and women of the NYPD risk their lives every day to protect us. We value them and stand with them,” Hikind, a Democrat who represents Brooklyn, said in a statement […]
“Move Jew” scrawled on a Philadelphia home and slurs written on a synagogue and 10 garages in Chicago.
Cuba has “the largest pool of untapped baseball talent in the world, and Major League Baseball may tap and leave Cuba dry.
Argentina’s president Christina Fernandez has accepted an official Jewish godson for the first time in the country’s history to help counter legend of death to a seventh son. She described in seven tweets her meeting with her new godson, Yair Tawil, a member of a Chabad-Lubavitch family. He was adopted as a godson under a […]
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: