US visa
US visaiStock

Israel moved closer Wednesday towards joining the US visa waiver program, which exempts citizens of participating countries from securing tourist visas to the US prior to travel.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced Wednesday morning that Israel has completed passage of all legislative changes mandated by the waiver program.

"Today, we have important news for the citizens of Israel,” Netanyahu said.

“Just as we promised, the legislative requirements for receiving exemption from US visas have been completed.”

“In the coming months, we will meet additional requirements and in September 2023, the State of Israel is expected to join the list of countries that are exempt from US visas.”

“I thank coalition chairman Ofir Katz, National Security Council Director Tzachi Hanegbi and Knesset Speaker Amir Ohana for advancing this project quickly and efficiently."

The completion of the legislative requirements marks the second stage in qualifying for the visa waiver program.

The first step, demonstrating that less than 3% of non-immigrant visa (NIV) application requests were rejected during the trial period, was achieved in January.

The Biden administration is pressing Israel to easy entry for Palestinian American travelers, with a reciprocity standard that could challenge Israeli security requirements and the country’s anti-BDS law, which enables Israel to bar supporters of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement from entering the country.