President Bush is expected to announce the expansion of the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) on Friday, October 17 at a White House Rose Garden ceremony. The Hungarian American Coalition (HAC) is pleased to confirm that the Republic of Hungary will be among the five countries qualified to join the VWP. Other countries to be included are: Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Czech Republic, South Korea and Slovakia.
The VWP enables citizens of participant “countries to travel to the United States for tourism or business for stays of 90 days or less without a visa. The program was established in 1986 with the objective of promoting better relations between the United States and its allies, eliminating unnecessary barriers to travel, stimulating the tourism industry, and permitting US embassies to focus consular resources in other areas.
The Department of Homeland Security is currently implementing the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA). The purpose of ESTA is to pre-screen all travelers who intend to enter the United States under the VWP. ESTA is not a visa requirement, it is a travel requirement.
Travelers to the United States are encouraged to register themselves as soon as possible. It is not necessary to have purchased a ticket or made a hotel booking in advance. Once the traveler has completed the Travel Authorization registration, he or she will get an instant result indicating whether they are allowed to travel to the United States or not. A Travel Authorization is valid for two years.” (The information contained herein is provided by US Immigration Support ® – www.usimmigrationsupport.org)
“HAC and its member organizations have expended significant effort on this policy initiative, and we are delighted that these efforts have brought us to this point,” said Max Teleki, President of the Hungarian American Coalition. “We have been working on this challenge for almost three years, despite the fact that some considered it hopeless. We are grateful for the commitment of the current ambassadors of Washington and Budapest and of their predecessors.”
“This new program will make it easier for Hungarian citizens to interact with Hungarian-Americans: these contacts are always enriching for both sides,” added Mr. Teleki. “And it’s great to know that we don’t have to rely on war or revolution to see an upswing in the number of Hungarians entering the U.S.”