U.S. Embassy Statement
Israel Meets NIV Refusal Rate Requirement for Visa Waiver Program
January 30, 2023
We support steps in the bilateral relationship that are beneficial for U.S. and Israeli citizens. One such step is working together toward Israel fulfilling the requirements of the Visa Waiver Program. The Visa Waiver Program is first and foremost a security partnership between the United States and participating countries. The U.S. government continues to work with Israel towards fulfilling all program requirements.
Entry into the Visa Waiver Program is a complex and laborious process. Being below the 3% non-immigrant visa refusal rate is just the one of many steps that Israel must undertake to join the program.
The government of Israel must meet all requirements to enter the program, and a lot of work needs to be done in a very short amount of time. First, the Knesset is going to have to act. There are three laws that will need to be passed for Israel to qualify for the Visa Waiver Program.
Second, the Israeli government, across government ministries, will have to move quickly to set up the many technical requirements needed to become eligible for the Visa Waiver Program. These are specific to data sharing and traveler screening, including information systems that have to be developed, then implemented, and tested. The window for Israel to complete these actions and pass the required laws closes in September 2023, which is the end of the U.S. fiscal year.
Finally, reciprocity of travel is a fundamental requirement to enter this program. We seek equal treatment and freedom of travel for all U.S. citizens regardless of national origin, religion, or ethnicity, including Palestinian Americans, seeking to enter or transit through Israel. This means that any person who has U.S. citizenship and holds an American passport will be able to fly to Israel on short term visits of less than 90 days, including travel to and out of the West Bank through Ben Gurion Airport.
For more information: Visa Waiver Program Requirements | Homeland Security (dhs.gov)