Israel does not currently enjoy visa-free travel to the United States, and any Israeli citizen must obtain a visa before traveling to the United States. The two countries are in negotiations with a view to reaching an agreement by the end of 2023. Cyprus, Bulgaria and Romania are also on the list of applicant countries.
The goal is for Israel to be included in the “Visa Waiver Program” which benefits forty countries in the world. This program allows citizens of beneficiary countries to travel to the United States for a period of 90 days without obtaining a visa beforehand, only by presenting the ESTA (travel authorization to be obtained before the flight).
For now, any Israeli citizen must obtain a visa before the flight date, which involves collecting numerous documents and having to get an appointment with the US Consulate. A costly procedure in time, energy and money that can prove unsuccessful, given the appointment times of the Consulates.
The debate has been at the heart of discussions between the two governments for many years, but has recently materialized: upon of the United States, Israel must still adopt three pieces of legislation and, above all, commit to guaranteeing entry to its soil to all American citizens by September 30, 2023, without any discrimination. Biden’s administration said it seeks “equal treatment and freedom to travel for all U.S. citizens, regardless of national origin, religion, or ethnicity, including Palestinian-Americans, seeking to enter or transit through Israel.”
Specifically, this concerns US citizens holding dual Palestinian, Iranian, Iraqi, Lebanese or Syrian nationality as well as US citizens travelling «to and from the West Bank through Ben Gurion Airport” – which was not the case until now. Since the pilot was set up on July 16, nearly 2600 Palestinian-Americans have traveled to Israel.
U.S. citizens who also have Palestinian citizenship and reside in the Gaza Strip are expected to be included in this pilot in September 2023.
Israel has until September 30th to meet the conditions imposed by the United States.
If successful, the visa waiver for Israeli citizens could be implemented as early as autumn 2023, allowing them to travel visa-free to the United States for tourist/business stays of less than 90 days.
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