Tuesday, 15 June 2021

US Department of Homeland Security Officials in Croatia: Week-Long Visit Regarding Visa-Free Travel

June 15, 2021 -  The US Department of Homeland Security officials in Croatia will continue to work in strengthening diplomatic relations with Croatia and ensuring visa-free travel between the two countries situated on opposite sides of the Atlantic.

Officials from the US Department of Homeland Security are currently in Croatia on a weeklong visit. As reported by US Embassy on social media, the visit is in regard to Croatia's progress towards Visa Waiver Programme Membership.

If Croatia joins the programme, Croatian citizens will not need a visa to travel to the USA for tourism, transit, or even for work as long as they don't extend the 90 day limit placed on their stay in the country.

As TCN reported earlier this year, The American Embassy in Croatia formally confirmed back in February that Croatian citizens will be able to finally enjoy the right to travel to the USA without the need for a visa later this year, by the 30th of September 2021 at the very latest, as was reported by Večernji list.

The final prerequisite for the removal of visa requirements was the issuing of 2000 further visas before the end of November 2020. Back then, sources inside the Croatian Ministry of Foreign Affairs revealed this criterion had been met, and thus the annual level of rejected applications will be less than 3%. That final bar was set by the USA to Croatia.

''Our two governments are continuing their close cooperation on meeting the requirements for the Visa Waiver Programme participation. US Department of Homeland Security officials are currently here, working with their Croatian Government partners on further advancing our shared goals, as well as addressing any remaining technical and policy requirements. People-to-people ties between the United States of America and the Republic of Croatia are robust,'' says the press release by the US Embassy in Zagreb.

They added that the US Embassy is continuing to focus on strengthening ties between the two countries and that Croatia is a trusted partner, and these new travel arrangements will also contribute to deepening bilateral relations.

This bit of news comes as a refreshment when taking into account some other recent events. Croatia and the USA enjoy a close connection thanks to their NATO membership, and recently, Croatian president Zoran Milanovic stated that he would not accept a NATO closing declaration if it failed to mention the Dayton agreement and Bosnia and Herzegovina's three constituent peoples.

That statement was criticised even by Željko Komšić, the Croatian member of the tripartite BiH Presidency, saying that ''the concept of constituent peoples in Bosnia and Herzegovina is obsolete.''

Additionally, a bit of challenge can be seen with the fact that while the US Embassy has a diplomatic mission in Croatia, there is no appointed Ambassador to Croatia at the moment. But nevertheless, cooperation and friendly relations between the two nations remain tight.

As TCN reported back in May, Croatia participated in a military exercise of transporting American military supplies, before that, in March, the US donated the GeneXpert Machine to Zagreb's Infectious Diseases Hospital and also invested $480,000 in the Upgrade of Rijeka's Offshore Emergency Response Centre.

In addition to their cooperation in terms of safety and health issues, the US additionally cooperated with the science-technology park - Step-Ri to bring entrepreneurship expertise to the Croats. With this diplomatic friendship evident and constantly being nourished, visa-free travel between the two countries is both fully deserved and now needed.

Learn more about visas in Croatia on our TC page.

For more about diplomacy in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Tuesday, 16 February 2021

US Embassy Croatia Officially Confirms Croatians USA Visa-Free Travel

February 16, 2021 – It's official! The American Embassy in Croatia today formally confirmed Croatians USA Visa-free travel. Croatians will have the right to travel to the USA without a Visa from later this year.

The American Embassy in Croatia today officially confirmed Croatians USA Visa-free travel. Having met the final stipulation set by the USA in 2020, Croatians right to travel to the USA without a Visa will be open later this year.

Tweeting from the official account of the American Embassy in Croatia, the news of Croatians USA Visa-free travel was released at 16.49 on Tuesday 16 February 2021. This is the first time that official confirmation of Croatians USA Visa-free travel has come from America authorities.

The main precondition set by the USA for the abolition of visa requirement for Croatians visiting America was a drop in the number of denied Visa applications to below 3%. Croatia attained that result back in September 2020. Total Croatia News was the first English language media in the world to reveal the stipulation had been met, granting Croatians USA Visa-free travel.

"It's official! The final rejection rate for Croatian tourist / business visa applicants fell to 2.69% last year, an important step forward in joining the US visa waiver program. We look forward to Croatians travelling to the United States visa-free in the near future, ” wrote Victoria J. Taylor, Deputy American Ambassador to the Republic of Croatia. She went on to thank the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs of the Republic of Croatia, Ministry of Interior Affairs of the Republic of Croatia and the Croatian government for their help in securing Croatians USA Visa-free travel.

 

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Wednesday, 30 September 2020

FM Says Visas for the US to be Waived in Months Ahead

ZAGREB, Sept 30, 2020 - Foreign Minister Gordan Grlic Radman said on Wednesday he expected a "positive decision" by the US in the months ahead about waiving visas for the US  for Croatian nationals.

"Various bodies in the US decide on that, with support from the American embassy. I think we can expect a positive decision in the months ahead," the minister told the public broadcaster two days before US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is due in Croatia.

In order for visas to be waived, Croatia must have less than 3% of applications rejected. In the EU, only Croatian, Cypriot, Bulgarian and Romanian nationals need a visa to enter the US.

US Ambassador to Croatia Robert Kohorst said on Tuesday he still had no official report on the meeting of that requirement but that he was very optimistic.

Croatian state leaders and Pompeo will meet in Dubrovnik and are also due to discuss the revocation of double taxation between the two countries.

"Today the government will make a decision. We'll show it to Secretary of State Pompeo. An evaluation is necessary also on their side and that will contribute to the legal certainty of taxpayers, notably those who have dual citizenship," said Grlic Radman.

"Mechanisms for cooperation between the US and Croatian tax authorities will also be established," he announced.

Croatian state leaders and Pompeo will also talk about the purchase of F-16 fighter jets.

"There is a call for bids, there is a procedure and deadlines," Grlic Radman said, adding that "the US interest is natural, just as the interests of the other competing states."

Croatia is buying 12 fighter jets. Offers have been submitted by the US, Sweden, France, and Israel.

In Dubrovnik, Pompeo will meet with Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic, Grlic Radman, and Defence Minister Mario Banozic.

Grlic Radman said Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov was expected to visit Croatia by year's end for the opening of the embassy on a new location.

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Saturday, 26 September 2020

Final Criteria Met: Croatians Don't Need A Visa For The USA From 2021

September 26, 2020 - A 20-year-old diplomatic and business stumbling block has finally been resolved - Croatians don't need a visa for the USA from 2021

With a considerable amount of the country's diaspora living in English-speaking countries, the issue of visa requirement to enter the USA has been of significant interest to Croatians for years. Discussions have been ongoing since the late 1990s, complicated by the fact Croatian passports can be issued in a different country altogether - Bosnia and Herzegovina. But now, the wait is finally over - Croatians don't need a visa for the USA from 2021.

As detailed in Total Croatia News on 7th September, the final hurdle for the removal of visa requirements was the issuing of 2000 further visas before the end of this month. Sources inside the Croatian Ministry of Foreign Affairs have revealed this criterion has now been met and thus the annual level of rejected applications will be less than 3%. This was the bar set by the USA to the Croatian state.

Meeting this figure was complicated by the decrease in travel due to the ongoing pandemic. Therefore, with full disclosure to their American counterparts, sections of the Croatian government set about orchestrating the required number of applications. They enlisted the help of the Croatian business community and members within it who were sure to submit successful applications.

Next Friday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will arrive in Croatia. Final details for the abolition of visas will be discussed between his accompanying team and that of Prime Minister Andrej Plenković, Foreign Minister Gordan Grlić Radman and Minister of Defense Mario Banožić, who will meet him in Dubrovnik. The official announcement that Croatians don't need a visa for the USA from 2021 could potentially come as soon as the end of the US Secretary of State's visit.

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Monday, 7 September 2020

Croatia One Step Away from US Visa Waiver

ZAGREB, September 7, 2020 - Visas for the US, if another 2,000 are issued this month, will become history, Vecernji List daily said on Monday, adding that Croatia was a step away from US visas being waived.

The Croatian Foreign Ministry has asked civil servants and people in the banking and business sectors to apply for US visas and they will almost certainly be approved, which will help the rejection rate to drop below 3% by the end of this month, which is the last requirement Croatia must meet, the paper said.

Croatia was a step away from meeting that requirement before the coronavirus pandemic stopped travel and reduced the number of visa applications to a minimum. The ministry's call is a way to make up for that.

There is little time as Americans wrap up the fiscal year during which they take the rejection rate into account on September 30.

If Croatia makes that date, visas will be waived next year, but if it misses it, now, when we are a step away from achieving the goal it has been waiting for since declaring independence, it will enter a new fiscal year and the counting of rejections will begin again.

In order to achieve that goal which now seems very likely, it was necessary to have good political relations and meet technical standards, including technical equipment, functioning border services, security data processing and sharing, and passports which meet the highest standards, the Vecernji List said.

 

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Friday, 14 February 2020

USA Ambassador Kohorst Clarifies 2020 Croatian Visa Waiver (VIDEO INTERVIEW)

According to Croatian Foreign and European Affairs Minister Gordan Grlić Radman, the United States (USA) planned to waive visas for Croatian citizens by the end of 2020 when the two countries sign a Double Taxation Treaty. While US Ambassador Robert Kohorst backed the 2020 timeline in yesterday's interview, he also emphasized that Croatia has not yet met all the conditions. And an inside source has confirmed that a Double Taxation Treaty is still 3 to 4 years away.

USA Visa Waiver Contingent on Refusal Rate Reduction: UPDATE

In an interview with Paul Bradbury of Total Croatia News yesterday, February 19, 2020; US Ambassador Robert Kohorst commented on Grlić Radman's claim that Croatia has fulfilled the conditions for the visa waiver program. 

"We expect that there is a very good chance that Croatia will qualify for the Visa Waiver Program in 2020, but there are some things that need to be completed yet. Both, you get the refusal rate below 3%, which is calculated on September 30. So, it's starting to look like they'll achieve that goal, but it's still subject to what happens in terms of people applying for visas," he explained.

"The second one is that there is about four or five documents that need to be with the Department of Homeland Security. Those enrollment processes: Croatia is working hard on them. We expect them to be completed but they are not done yet. So, he (Croatian Foreign and European Affairs Minister Gordan Grlić Radman) wasn't wrong in terms of expecting to get it done, but there is still some work to be done," he concluded.

USA Croatia Double Taxation Treaty Not Expected in 2020: UPDATE

According to an inside source, the USA Croatia Double Taxation Treaty will not be signed in 2020 and is likely 3 to 4 years away under the best circumstances. A Double Taxation Treaty portfolio has not yet been created by the US Treasury Department. After the portfolio has been created, it is a 2 year process to prepare the DTT Treaty for signature by both countries. Then it is sent to the US Senate for approval.

There are currently 30 countries ahead of Croatia on the USA DTT priority list.

Croatia Foreign Minister Claimed Visa Waivers, Double Taxation Treaty for 2020

"We have fulfilled all (conditions) and this is now just a matter of the exact time. It is in the interest of both Croatian and American businessmen," Grlić Radman told reporters on February 14, 2020. He had met with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo ahead of the start of the Munich Security Conference, the world's leading forum for discussing international security policy.

Croatia, Romania, Bulgaria and Cyprus are currently the only EU members for which the US has not yet waived visas. Citizens of Poland were exempted from the United States visa requirement at the end of 2019 according to Index on February 14, 2020.

After the meeting with Pompeo, Grlić Radman had said that the visa waivers and double taxation agreement would be implemented by the end of this year. 

Croatia Troop Withdrawal from Afghanistan?

Croatia and the US are NATO allies and cooperate closely in peacekeeping operations in Afghanistan, Iraq, Kosovo, Poland and the Baltic States.

Asked if Croatia, like the US, would withdraw its forces from Afghanistan; the minister replied that Zagreb would coordinate an eventual troop withdrawal with Washington.

"It is a matter for the two countries' defense ministries, but we have reaffirmed that we will coordinate our actions. Croatia defends its interests through NATO and UN membership," he added.

Kiowa Helicopter Crash Discussed With Pompeo

Without going into detail, he indicated that he had spoken with Pompeo briefly about the acquisition of fighter jets and the recent Kiowa helicopter crash near Zablace. The USA had donated that aircraft to Croatia.

Grlić Radman will also meet with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif later on Friday.

"Croatia insists on respect for international law ... and we are doing everything we can to urge Iran to strictly adhere to the nuclear deal," said the senior Croatian diplomat, the country which currently holds the six-month EU presidency.

Follow our Politics page to keep updated on the upcoming USA visa requirement waiver for Croatian citizens.

Wednesday, 4 December 2019

Croatia: USA Planning to Waive Visa Requirement for Croatian Citizens

Finally, 28 years after Croatia declared independence, the United States is on the verge of waiving travel visas for Croatian citizens. The Croatian government and their US partners have been working together closely since Interior Minister Davor Bozinovic’s visit to the US at the beginning of last year.

Extremely important security criteria and agreements should be finalized this month according to Sandra Veljković/Večernji List on December 3, 2019. And visa denials, which is the main obstacle to abolishing the visa requirement, have been reduced from 5.96 to a record 4.02 percent, which is close to the 3 percent threshold that will guarantee entry into the visa-free program.

Croatia Encouraged to Follow Poland’s Path

To further this goal, the US encouraged Croatia to follow Poland’s path, which reduced the number of refusals this year, and entered a visa-free program with a collective application from officials, businessmen and citizens who will certainly be granted visas. In Croatia, this action has already been initiated at various levels, especially among businessmen.

- Croatia is close to meeting the criteria and we will continue to work with the relevant authorities to help Croatia meet the requirements. We urge the Croatian Government to take a proactive role and review the successful steps the Polish government has taken in its bid for admission to the visa waiver program, the US Embassy in Zagreb said.

Three Percent Rejection Rate Goal

So, what steps has Poland taken? And what is the background story regarding the sharp decline in visa refusal rates from nearly six percent in 2017 to below three percent? That country, in agreement with the US, initiated a process of encouraging its citizens to obtain US tourist visas. In addition, Polish officials also applied for visas, thereby reducing the rate of visa refusals. They concentrated, of course on those groups of people who have the best chance of obtaining visas. This method, which has been discussed with Americans for a long time, could theoretically function in Croatia, since the real numbers of rejections are rather small: around 300 to 400.

US Ambassador to Croatia Robert Kohorst also spoke with Croatian Chamber of Commerce President Luka Burilović about the Polish model for reducing visa rejections. The CCC confirmed this meeting and discussion regarding visas.

Croatia Among Four EU Countries Needing Visas for US

- Croatia is one of four EU member states, along with Bulgaria, Romania and Cyprus, whose passport holders still need visas to arrive and stay in the US. They stressed the need to reduce the rejection rate to at least three percent, and both sides agreed that they could achieve this goal by this time next year. This will require a concerted effort to encourage members of the business community to apply for visas within the next ten months, the CCC reported. In addition, another cause for optimism is the large number of valid visas, which are issued every 10 years, so that their renewals could positively impact the balance between approved and rejected visas.

Secure Source of Income Required

Although Americans have the discretion to refuse requests without giving a reason, according to diplomatic sources, most of the rejected requests are being filed by Croatian nationals in Serbia and Bosnia. Most of the visa rejections were for people who could not prove that they had a secure source of income. And applicants have often contacted family members living in the US who have businesses or trades, which was another indicator that the applicant was going to the US to get a job with a relative.

Check out our Lifestyle page here or our Politics page here to follow travel and visa information for Croatian citizens.

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Visas

Saturday, 9 April 2016

European Union to Discuss Introduction of Visas for Americans Due to Croatia?

Since the United States still require visas for citizens of Croatia and several other EU member states, the EU could introduce counter-measures.

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Croatia and Europe Going Contactless

By 2020, about 50% of Visa transactions in Europe will be done via mobile technology.

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