US Passport Visa
US Passport VisaThinkstock

Israel and the United States are in negotiations to establish a joint fingerprint database, which will be a significant step forward in granting blanket visa exemptions for Israelis wishing to enter the United States.

According to Channel 2, a meeting was held Monday between the Justice Ministry, the Foreign Ministry, and the Prime Minister's Office in order to promote the move for visa exceptions to the United States.

The Justice Ministry has been in contact with the relevant authorities in the Trump administration and aims to grant the United States access to Israel's fingerprint database while also protecting the privacy of Israeli citizens. Israel would also need to change existing privacy laws in order to grant the United States access.

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked (Jewish Home) first announced the effort in May, saying that "I will work in Washington DC on something that is very important to all Israelis," Shaked said of the talks on the visa waiver program. "I hope that we will finalize it in the coming year."

Currently, Israel is not part of the US visa waiver program, and Israelis, especially post army-age have a difficult time obtaining a 90-day tourist visa, as the United States suspects that they will exploit the visa to illegally sell Dead Sea products in malls. Israel has long tried to get into the visa waiver program, which allows for 90-day visits for business purposes.

In 2016, Israel announced that its visa refusal rate to the United States dropped from 8.2% in 2014 to 3.8% in 2015, just above the 3% limit for countries wishing to enter the program.