Israelis can now visit the USA visa free

The country has become the first Middle Eastern country to be admitted to the US Visa Waiver program


NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 26: People arrive at John F. Kennedy (JFK) international airport following an announcment by the Supreme Court that it will take President Donald Trump's travel ban case later in the year on June 26, 2017 in New York City. The court will let a limited version of the travel ban from six mostly muslim countries take effect before hearing full arguments in October. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

(JNS) For the first time in Israeli history, citizens of the country will be able to visit the USA without a costly and time-consuming visa process.

American Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas announced on Wednesday that Israel has been admitted officially as the 41st nation in the US Visa Waiver Program.

The announcement, which Mayorkas made in consultation with Jewish Secretary of State Antony Blinken, means that as of the end of November, Israelis will be able to visit the United States for fewer than 90 days without a visa.

“The designation of Israel into the Visa Waiver Program is an important recognition of our shared security interests and the close cooperation between our two countries,” Mayorkas stated.

“This designation, which represents over a decade of work and coordination between the United States and Israel, will enhance our two nations’ collaboration on counterterrorism, law enforcement and our other common priorities," the secretary added. "Israel’s entry into the Visa Waiver Program, and the stringent requirements it entails, will make both of our nations more secure.”

Blinken added that Israel's admission "represents a critical step forward in our strategic partnership with Israel that will further strengthen long-standing people-to-people engagement, economic cooperation and security coordination between our two countries.”

“This important achievement will enhance freedom of movement for U.S. citizens, including those living in the Palestinian territories or traveling to and from them,” Blinken added.

The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations welcomed Israel's admission into the program and called the announcement "long overdue."

“Israel’s entry into the Visa Waiver Program will bring tangible benefits to both American and Israeli citizens," stated Harriet Schleifer and William Daroff, chair and CEO respectively of the Conference of Presidents.

"The relatives of Jewish Americans in Israel will no longer be forced to go through a lengthy, expensive and cumbersome process to visit their families," the leaders added.

"Additionally, Israel’s entry into the Visa Waiver Program reduces barriers to commerce between American and Israeli entrepreneurs, enhancing American firms' competitiveness in key sectors such as AI and semiconductors."

The two added that Israeli admission into the program is a first for a Middle East nation, which "is emblematic of the deeply-rooted partnership shared by the United States and Israel."

Michael Herzog, the Israeli ambassador to the United States, called the announcement "a significant milestone in the relationship between Israel and the United States."

"Our people-to-people ties, which are the backbone of our special relationship, will only grow stronger," Herzog said. "Israelis and Americans will be able to more freely travel between our two countries, interacting and connecting on a personal and professional level."

The World Jewish Congress stated that the "vitally important" program that "boosts homeland security, strengthens business ties, supports people-to-people connections and promotes cross-cultural understanding."

AIPAC called Israeli admission to the program "a historic accomplishment that will further strengthen the ironclad partnership between America and Israel, benefiting both countries and ensuring the U.S.-Israel relationship remains strong for years to come."

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