The American embassy in Israel has dropped a key requirement for some Israeli visa-seekers, making it easier for Israeli tourists to visit the United States.
Amid speculation that the US may soon drop its requirement that Israelis wishing to enter the US apply for a tourist visa before their trip by adding Israel to the visa waiver program, the US embassy in Tel Aviv has announced that it is easing the conditions for Israeli citizens who already possess visas to renew them.
Israeli and American officials have yet to bridge the gap over key issues which have delayed Israel’s addition to the visa waiver program, particularly US demands that Israel give American authorities access to personal information databanks in Israel, enabling US law enforcement officials to screen out criminals and individuals with ties to terrorism.
As a result, the US requires all Israeli citizens looking to visit the US to first obtain a tourist visa, a process which includes an in-person meeting with an embassy or consulate officer, who assesses the visa candidate in an effort to screen out potential illegal immigrants and those seeking to work in the US illegally.
While the visa requirement remains in place, however, the US embassy has dropped the in-person interview for some Israelis looking to renew their tourist visas.
According to a statement released by the US Embassy in Tel Aviv, any Israeli citizen who currently holds a valid tourist visa or a visa which expired within the last 12 months and was over the age of 14 when he or she received the last visa is eligible for the new visa renewal process.
No interview will be required for those eligible, and the process can be completed without travelling to either the US embassy or consulate.