EU warns of visas for US citizens if Washington implements visa waiver reforms
A letter signed by 28 European member state ambassadors to the US was published in The Hill after Europe reacted furiously and with disbelief to plans by Washington to tighten-up the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), which currently lets millions of citizens from the bloc travel to the US each year without a visa.
Last week, the US House of Representatives adopted a bill to reform the visa program that would ban certain EU nationals from entering the US without a visa if they had visited Iran, Iraq, Syria or Sudan after March 2011. Some US politicians want the legislation introduced to tighten security following the November 13 Paris terror attacks.
“A blanket restriction on those who have visited Syria or Iraq, for example, would most likely only affect legitimate travel by businesspeople, journalists, humanitarian or medical workers while doing little to detect those who travel by more clandestine means overland,” the letter signed by the 28 ambassadors stated.
At present, 23 of the EU’s 28 member states enjoy visa-free travel to the US, with the remaining five nations keen to join the VWP. The bloc says it is imperative to keep the visa waiver program intact for business and tourism purposes, while the current system does not mean that it is “a license to enter the US with nothing more than the wave of a passport of an allied country.”