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Biden Admin Grants Israelis Visa-Free Travel to the United States After Netanyahu Promises Full Reciprocity to Arab Americans

Biden Admin Grants Israelis Visa-Free Travel to the United States After Netanyahu Promises Full Reciprocity to Arab Americans

a man in a reflective vest standing in front of an airplane

The Biden administration has finally allowed Israel to join its visa waiver program, giving Israelis visa-free entry to the United States for the time first.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced the decision on Wednesday after the State Department confirmed that Israel had committed to full reciprocity, giving Palestinian-Americans living in both the US and West Bank visa-free access to Israel.

Israel’s application to join the visa waiver program has been dragging on for months over concerns that the government would still impose additional barriers to entry for Arab Americans. The U.S. says it will monitor Israel’s promises to ensure compliance with the reciprocity provisions.

“Israel’s entry into the Visa Waiver Program 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,” commented Blinken on Wednesday.

“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 said Israel had “put forth a significant whole-of-government effort” to meet the requirements of the program that required a slew of new laws, new information sharing systems and updated entry processes for U.S. citizens.

From November 30, citizens and nationals of Israel will be able to apply online for authorization to travel to the United States through the ESTA – a much cheaper an faster process than obtaining the standard B-1/B-2 visa.

Under the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA), citizens and nationals of eligible countries can travel to the United States for tourism or business purposes for up to 90 days.

View Comment (1)
  • Not enough details released. Will Hamas military personnel in Gaza also have visa free access to the US? How about their uninvolved relatives? Or Arabs not eligible?

    Unclear what America got in return.

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