Amid war, Israelis can now travel to US for 90 days without getting a visa | World News - Hindustan Times
close_game
close_game

Amid war, Israelis can now travel to US for 90 days without getting a visa

AP | | Posted by Sreelakshmi B
Oct 20, 2023 04:33 AM IST

The U.S. announced Sept. 27 that it was admitting Israel into the visa waiver program.

As the Israel-Hamas war intensifies, the United States Thursday launched a visa waiver program allowing Israelis wishing to visit the United States for 90 days or less to come without applying for a visa.

A woman holds her boarding pass in her passport after checking in for her flight.(AP)
A woman holds her boarding pass in her passport after checking in for her flight.(AP)

The U.S. announced Sept. 27 that it was admitting Israel into the visa waiver program, adding the country to a select group of 40 mostly European and Asian countries whose citizens can travel to the U.S. for three months without visas.

Unlock exclusive access to the story of India's general elections, only on the HT App. Download Now!

At the time, the U.S. said Israelis could start traveling to America without visas as of November 30. In a news release, the Department of Homeland Security said the program was operational as of Thursday.

Officials gave no reason for the changed timeline in a news release Thursday. But just days after Israel's admittance to the visa waiver program, Hamas launched attacks against numerous locations in southern Israel. Since then the Israeli military has relentlessly attacked locations in the Gaza Strip as it prepares for a ground invasion.

READ | US Navy ship shoots down missiles fired from Yemen 'potentially' at Israel, says Pentagon

Under the waiver program, Israelis first register with the Electronic System for Travel Authorization. That's an automated system that helps determine whether the person is eligible to travel, Homeland Security said in the news release. The process can take up to 72 hours. Then they can travel to the U.S.

To be eligible, Israelis must have a biometrically enabled passport. Those who don't have such a passport still must apply for a U.S. visa, the department said.

READ | Deciphering Biden's risky wartime visit to Israel and the unspoken messages it conveyed

Countries that want to take part in the visa program have to meet three critical benchmarks. Israel met two of those benchmarks over the past two years: a low percentage of Israelis who applied for visas and were rejected and a low percentage of Israelis who have overstayed their visas. Israel had struggled to meet the third, for reciprocity that essentially means all U.S. citizens, including Palestinian Americans, must be treated equally when traveling to or through Israel.

Many critics said that despite American assertions, Palestinian Americans were still facing discrimination when traveling to Israel.

Discover the complete story of India's general elections on our exclusive Elections Product! Access all the content absolutely free on the HT App. Download now!

Get Latest World News along with Latest News from India at Hindustan Times.
SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
Share this article
SHARE
Story Saved
Live Score
OPEN APP
Saved Articles
Following
My Reads
Sign out
New Delhi 0C
Saturday, April 13, 2024
Start 14 Days Free Trial Subscribe Now
Follow Us On