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Visa waiver step

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  • Martin Votruba
    The homeland security bill passed by a 60-38 majority in the Senate Thursday evening contains a provision that could become a step towards granting the Slovaks
    Message 1 of 7 , Mar 14, 2007
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      The homeland security bill passed by a 60-38 majority in the Senate
      Thursday evening contains a provision that could become a step towards
      granting the Slovaks visa-free travel to the US.

      The current US guidelines have not allowed visa-free arrangements with
      countries where the US Embassies turn down more than 3% of the
      applicants for a US visa.

      The bill passed on Tuesday raises the rejection rate to 10% for those
      countries, including Slovakia, that have been given a "roadmap"
      towards the US visa waiver program. Legislators and the White House
      sometimes speak of them as allies who therefore deserve easier travel
      to the US. Slovakia withdrew its troops from Iraq in January this
      year. Most Europeans outside the former communist bloc already enjoy
      visa-free travel to the US.

      Among Slovakia's "roadmapped" neighbors, the US visa rejection rate is
      over 20% in Poland, around 12% in Hungary, and under 10% in the Czech
      R. It may be somewhere between 14% and 19% in Slovakia. These
      numbers are estimates, the US does not release the exact data.

      The bill also mandates that the Dept. of Homeland Security start
      tracking the departures of foreign visitors to the US once it becomes
      technically feasible. That provision opens a possibility for
      Washington to make visa-free arrangements with countries whose
      citizens tend not to overstay their visa, rather than on
      administrative rejections of applicants before they can make the trip.


      Martin

      votruba "at" pitt "dot" edu
    • Dr. Joe Q
      Dear Martin, That is good to hear. Maybe I can have some of my relatives from Bardejov visit without the bureaucratic hassel of a visa (aside - term limits
      Message 2 of 7 , Mar 14, 2007
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        Dear Martin,

        That is good to hear. Maybe I can have some of my
        relatives from Bardejov visit without the bureaucratic
        hassel of a visa (aside - term limits for politicians
        should be enacted along with term limits for
        bureaucrats).

        Strange - - - I could get a visa for Taiwan, Burma
        (Myanmar), Phillipines, Nepal, Korea, etc. with a
        picture and a signature. In fact the Taiwan visa was
        multiple entry good for 4 years!

        Dr. "Q"

        --- Martin Votruba <votrubam@...> wrote:

        > The homeland security bill passed by a 60-38
        > majority in the Senate
        > Thursday evening contains a provision that could
        > become a step towards
        > granting the Slovaks visa-free travel to the US.
        >
        > The current US guidelines have not allowed visa-free
        > arrangements with
        > countries where the US Embassies turn down more than
        > 3% of the
        > applicants for a US visa.
        >
        > The bill passed on Tuesday raises the rejection rate
        > to 10% for those
        > countries, including Slovakia, that have been given
        > a "roadmap"
        > towards the US visa waiver program. Legislators and
        > the White House
        > sometimes speak of them as allies who therefore
        > deserve easier travel
        > to the US. Slovakia withdrew its troops from Iraq
        > in January this
        > year. Most Europeans outside the former communist
        > bloc already enjoy
        > visa-free travel to the US.
        >
        > Among Slovakia's "roadmapped" neighbors, the US visa
        > rejection rate is
        > over 20% in Poland, around 12% in Hungary, and under
        > 10% in the Czech
        > R. It may be somewhere between 14% and 19% in
        > Slovakia. These
        > numbers are estimates, the US does not release the
        > exact data.
        >
        > The bill also mandates that the Dept. of Homeland
        > Security start
        > tracking the departures of foreign visitors to the
        > US once it becomes
        > technically feasible. That provision opens a
        > possibility for
        > Washington to make visa-free arrangements with
        > countries whose
        > citizens tend not to overstay their visa, rather
        > than on
        > administrative rejections of applicants before they
        > can make the trip.
        >
        >
        > Martin
        >
        > votruba "at" pitt "dot" edu



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      • Martin Votruba
        ... I wonder how much likelier the visa waiver is than term limits for politicians, Joe. Still, Bratislava s hoping for 2009. What may happen is that
        Message 3 of 7 , Mar 15, 2007
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          > without the bureaucratic hassle of a visa (aside - term
          > limits for politicians should be enacted along with term

          I wonder how much likelier the visa waiver is than term limits for
          politicians, Joe. Still, Bratislava's hoping for 2009.

          What may happen is that Washington indeed waives the visa once
          Immigration begins to keep track of how many visa-free visitors
          actually leave the US after the determined time (currently up to 90
          consecutive days). I'd expect that the ratio of those from Slovakia
          and other post-communist countries that may be included who will
          overstay in the US will be higher than the current US guideline of 2%
          (which has been only theoretical so far because no one knows who
          leaves and who doesn't).

          We'll see what Washington does then -- will it increase the
          guideline/limit, reintroduce the visa requirement, sweep it under the
          carpet?


          Martin

          votruba "at" pitt "dot" edu
        • ssultonia
          Has any information but released by the State Department? Thanks, Bill
          Message 4 of 7 , Mar 16, 2007
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            Has any information but released by the State Department?
            Thanks,
            Bill

            --- In Slovak-World@yahoogroups.com, "Martin Votruba" <votrubam@...>
            wrote:
            >
            > The homeland security bill passed by a 60-38 majority in the Senate
            > Thursday evening contains a provision that could become a step towards
            > granting the Slovaks visa-free travel to the US.
            >
            > The current US guidelines have not allowed visa-free arrangements with
            > countries where the US Embassies turn down more than 3% of the
            > applicants for a US visa.
            >
            > The bill passed on Tuesday raises the rejection rate to 10% for those
            > countries, including Slovakia, that have been given a "roadmap"
            > towards the US visa waiver program. Legislators and the White House
            > sometimes speak of them as allies who therefore deserve easier travel
            > to the US. Slovakia withdrew its troops from Iraq in January this
            > year. Most Europeans outside the former communist bloc already enjoy
            > visa-free travel to the US.
            >
            > Among Slovakia's "roadmapped" neighbors, the US visa rejection rate is
            > over 20% in Poland, around 12% in Hungary, and under 10% in the Czech
            > R. It may be somewhere between 14% and 19% in Slovakia. These
            > numbers are estimates, the US does not release the exact data.
            >
            > The bill also mandates that the Dept. of Homeland Security start
            > tracking the departures of foreign visitors to the US once it becomes
            > technically feasible. That provision opens a possibility for
            > Washington to make visa-free arrangements with countries whose
            > citizens tend not to overstay their visa, rather than on
            > administrative rejections of applicants before they can make the trip.
            >
            >
            > Martin
            >
            > votruba "at" pitt "dot" edu
            >
          • Martin Votruba
            Slovaks may be able to travel to the US without a visa in 2 years. According to agency reports on Feb. 6, Richard C. Barth, assistant secretary of the Homeland
            Message 5 of 7 , Feb 6, 2008
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              Slovaks may be able to travel to the US without a visa in 2 years.

              According to agency reports on Feb. 6, Richard C. Barth, assistant
              secretary of the Homeland Security Department, said in Prague today
              that the Czechs, Estonians, and Greeks might be able to do so as early
              as by the end of this year. The visa rejection rate by the US Embassy
              in Prague has dropped to about 7%. The US requires that it be under
              10% in order to include a EU country in the visa-free travel program.

              Barth also said that other EU member countries whose citizens need a
              visa, Slovakia is among them, may be able to join the program by the
              end of 2009. Although it has been dropping, the visa rejection rate
              in Slovakia is still over 10%, but no specific number has been provided.


              Martin

              votruba "at" pitt "dot" edu
            • Russell McCoy
              I really hope they get this resolved soon. This was really a sensitive issue with my Slovak friends and I couldn t offer them a valid reason for the law s
              Message 6 of 7 , Feb 7, 2008
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                I really hope they get this resolved soon. This was really a
                sensitive issue with my Slovak friends and I couldn't offer them a
                valid reason for the law's existence.


                --- In Slovak-World@yahoogroups.com, "Martin Votruba" <votrubam@...>
                wrote:
                >
                > Slovaks may be able to travel to the US without a visa in 2 years.
                >
                > According to agency reports on Feb. 6, Richard C. Barth, assistant
                > secretary of the Homeland Security Department, said in Prague today
                > that the Czechs, Estonians, and Greeks might be able to do so as
                early
                > as by the end of this year. The visa rejection rate by the US
                Embassy
                > in Prague has dropped to about 7%. The US requires that it be
                under
                > 10% in order to include a EU country in the visa-free travel
                program.
                >
                > Barth also said that other EU member countries whose citizens need
                a
                > visa, Slovakia is among them, may be able to join the program by
                the
                > end of 2009. Although it has been dropping, the visa rejection
                rate
                > in Slovakia is still over 10%, but no specific number has been
                provided.
                >
                >
                > Martin
                >
                > votruba "at" pitt "dot" edu
                >
              • modra101
                Hi All, It s hard to say what the specific reasons why some Slovaks are denied visas. The embassy certainly won t tell you why, other than state failure to
                Message 7 of 7 , Feb 8, 2008
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                  Hi All,

                  It's hard to say what the specific reasons why some Slovaks are denied
                  visas. The embassy certainly won't tell you why, other than state
                  "failure to overcome the presumption of immigrant intent".

                  My husband's sister was denied a visa to visit us in the US twice.
                  Why? In her case, probably because she is 24 years old, not married,
                  doesn't have children, and doesn't own a business or a piece of
                  valuable property. I suppose she would be considered a high "flight
                  risk", that she would want to remain in the US. That, of course, does
                  not interest my sister-in-law. She has a life in Slovakia and is not
                  interested in moving to the US permanently.

                  The worst thing about the entire process, she told us later, was how
                  she was treated at the US embassy in Bratislava, as if she was guilty
                  of some wrong doing. She was talked down to and treated rudely by the
                  several people she came in contact to, and the experience left her
                  very shaken. What can you say to consular staff when they are
                  predisposed from the beginning to think than applicants are planning
                  to illegally immigrate? Not only is that demeaning and unfair, it also
                  insinuates that people's lives in their home country have little
                  value. She will never consider re-applying for a visa to come visit
                  us, and none of her family will either.

                  My husband and I were very upset about all of this, also angry, hurt,
                  and dismayed. I wrote a letter to the ambassador at the time,
                  Ambassador Vallee venting my frustration at the unjustness of the
                  process. I also wrote a similar letter to President Bush explaining
                  our experience and asking that he consider canceling visa requirements
                  altogether. Slovaks had already been EU members for more than 2 years.
                  By chance this was exactly the time when Prime Minister Dzurinda was
                  traveling to Washington DC to meet with Bush (March 2006) and so I
                  sent a copy of the letter to Dzurinda's office. I got a very nice
                  letter from one of Dzurinda's foreign policy advisers. Here's part of it:

                  "It is important that the implications stemming from the current
                  policy are explained to the Government of the United States and
                  members of the US Congress. You have a profound role to play in this
                  process and I thank you for voicing your concerns with the President
                  of the United States."

                  He's right that as Americans we have a "profound role" in this. I
                  believe we need to be more vocal about our wants and interests in
                  seeing the visa requirements canceled for all EU member countries.
                  Things would move along faster if our government thought that we were
                  concerned about this issue. If we do nothing, they will certainly take
                  their sweet time, especially if they don't believe it's a priority.
                  Maybe it isn't a priority for the US government, but for my husband
                  and I, it means that none of his family will come to visit us.

                  I didn't tell my sister-in-law that I wrote and sent letters to Bush
                  and Dzurinda. I also sent a copy to "Sme" newspaper. Boy was she
                  surprised to see a copy of the letter printed in their editorial
                  section :) That was nice.

                  I also did receive responses both from the Ambassador's office and
                  from the President's office. The letter from the Ambassador's office
                  was lengthy, explaining the process, but essentially saying that there
                  was little he could do about it. From the President's office I
                  received a letter saying that my letter would be forwarded to the
                  State Department. I received a letter from the State Department later,
                  also explaining the law and the process again, but not adding to much
                  beyond that. Next I need to work on sending letters to the
                  Congressional committee that oversees the visa issue.

                  I encourage others to send letters. I believe it does help, even if it
                  is in a very small way. I hope visas for Slovaks will be canceled
                  within the next few years, as Martin has reported in a previous post.
                  If not, my husband's family will simply be too old to travel after time.

                  Margarete

                  --
                  Margarete Hurn Minar
                  Author
                  "The Foreigner's Guide to Living in Slovakia"
                  www.fgslovakia.com


                  --- In Slovak-World@yahoogroups.com, "Russell McCoy" <mccoy4984@...>
                  wrote:
                  >
                  > I really hope they get this resolved soon. This was really a
                  > sensitive issue with my Slovak friends and I couldn't offer them a
                  > valid reason for the law's existence.
                  >
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