U.S. Senate Waives Personal Interview for Tourist Visa

YERUSHALAYIM -

The U.S. Senate has unanimously called for Israeli participation in the Global Entry Program, a pre-check that allows for quick passage of Israeli visa-holders into the United States. In a letter to Homeland Security head Kirstjen Nielsen, the senators said that allowing for Israeli participation in the program will “further cement security relations between the two countries,” and enable Homeland Security officials to devote more of their resources to visitors to the U.S. who have not been checked out.

The program allows for quick entry of pre-approved individuals at the automatic kiosks used at many entry points in U.S. airports. To get into the program, individuals must undergo an extensive pre-check before they arrive in the U.S., usually conducted by the U.S. embassy or consulate in their country of citizenship. Approved members of the program pass their foreign passport through the kiosk readers, and are quickly approved entry into the U.S.

The program is designed for business people who visit the U.S. often. Member countries of the program include Argentina, Australia, Canada, Colombia, Germany, India, Mexico, New Zealand, Panama, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan and the UK. A total of 1.4 million people are members of the program. In their letter, the senators said that in 2016, a total of 410,000 Israelis visited the U.S., and contributed $1.7 billion to the U.S. economy.

The Global Entry Program is the next best thing to the elimination of the visa requirement for Israelis visiting the U.S., which Israel has for years sought. According to Israeli officials, discussions on that are at an advanced stage, but the U.S. has not made any announcements or promises on when that might take place, if ever.