Saturday, 23 October 2021

PM on Visa Cancellation: Strategic Goal Achieved to the Benefit of Croatian Citizens

ZAGREB, 23 Oct, 2021 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković and Minister of the Interior Davor Božinović have welcomed the fact that Croatians can travel to the United States without visas as of Saturday, 23 October.

"As of today, Croatians can travel to the USA without visas!" Plenković said in a Twitter post.

"We have met the necessary criteria and achieved a strategic goal to the benefit of Croatian citizens," Plenković said.

"We are opening a new chapter in our relations, strengthening our partnership and creating preconditions for closer economic cooperation and investments," the PM said.

As of 23 October Croatians can travel to the United States for business or tourism purposes without visas, after obtaining approval via the online Electronic System for Travel Authorization, or ESTA, the US Embassy in Zagreb said.

Croatia has entered the Visa Waiver Programme, a comprehensive security partnership between the United States and participating countries that enables travel to the USA for business or tourism purposes in the duration of up to 90 days, with national security being protected in the process.

For a country to enter the VWP, it must meet criteria regarding the fight against terrorism, law enforcement, immigration, document security and border management, and the percentage of rejected visa applications must be below 3%, which Croatia met only recently.

Application via ESTA is possible any time before travel but the US Homeland Security Department recommends that travellers apply as soon as possible, and 72 hours before travel at the latest, the US Embassy says.

Božinović: Visa cancellation major acknowledgement for Croatia

The cancellation of visa requirements for Croatians travelling to the USA is a major acknowledgement for Croatia, Minister of the Interior Davor Božinović said on Saturday after talks with the Chargé d’Affaires at the US Embassy, Mark Fleming.

Božinović thanked the US Embassy for playing an important role in "moments that were very important" for Croatia, such as its accession to the EU and NATO.

He recalled "the hard work on the cancellation of visa requirements over the past few years", including the connecting of data bases, cooperation with the Homeland Security Department and with agencies in charge of fighting terrorism and organised crime, etc.

This is a very good day for US-Croatian relations, Fleming said.

We want more Croatians in the United States, he added.

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Thursday, 16 September 2021

Visa-Free Travel for Croatians to USA? Decision Expected by End of September

September 16, 2021 - Will there be visa-free travel for Croatians to the USA by the end of the year? Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas is making the final decision on Croatia's readiness to join the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). 

Croatian citizens could travel to the United States without visas as early as the end of this year, said a US Homeland Security official who is in Croatia this week to make a final assessment of Croatia's readiness to enter the visa-free regime, reports HRT.

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas will make the final decision on Croatia's readiness to join the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). A US ministry delegation is in Croatia this week to prepare a final report.

Serena Hoy, the ministry's international affairs secretary, told Hina that Mayorkas would make the decision by the end of September.

If everything goes according to plan, we believe that Croatia will be in the VWP by the end of the year, she said, adding that the delegation of the relevant ministry is optimistic that this will be the case.

After abolishing visas for travel to the USA for tourist and business purposes, Croatian citizens will apply through the Electronic Travel Authorization System (ESTA). Passengers will apply no later than 48 hours before the flight, and it will cost $14.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken officially nominated Croatia for VWP in early August, and the US embassy announced in February that Croatia met less than 3 percent of rejected visa applications - 2.69 percent at the time.

Hoy pointed out that this criterion is one of the most demanding and that there are many countries that want to join the visa-free regime, but it is difficult for them to overcome this obstacle.

Currently, VWP has all EU member states except Croatia, Bulgaria, Romania and Cyprus, Australia, Brunei, Chile, Iceland, Norway, the United Kingdom, Japan, South Korea, Monaco, New Zealand, Switzerland, Singapore, and Taiwan.

Membership in the regime is assessed every two years, and exclusion is possible, which happened to Argentina in 2002, and Uruguay in 2003, according to the pages of the Congress.

A prerequisite for VWP is strengthening security cooperation and the mutual sharing of information between candidate countries and the United States.

The US delegation, among other things, assessed Croatia's security readiness by visiting airports and border crossings, and ports, and this week it will visit a reception center for migrants and have several meetings with representatives of the Croatian authorities.

In recent years, the Croatian side has also met with representatives of the US Attorney's Office, the Terrorist Investigation Center, and the FBI.

In August, Interior Minister Davor Božnović emphasized that Croatia's accession to the VWP would be important for Croatia's accession to the Schengen area.

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