Number of Rejected US Visa Applications Grows

Total Croatia News

Croatians will have to wait a bit longer for US visas to be abolished. According to the latest US data, the ratio of refused visa applications – which has to be less than three per cent for a country to enter the US visa exemption programme – grew compared to the previous year, reports Večernji List on May 16, 2019.

The increase from 5.1 per cent in 2017 to 5.92 per cent in 2018 is associated with a more significant number of visa applicants for whom there was strong indication that they really wanted to work in the US instead of visiting it as tourists, mainly because they claimed to have relatives in the United States having a business there.

On the other hand, there is good news that this year might bring a breakthrough, for two reasons. This year, a large number of existing visas should be renewed, which could affect the ratio of denied and approved visas. On the political side, there is another possibility, and that is for the American president to decide to include some states, primarily Croatia and Poland, in the visa exemption programme. The chances of this happening are not significant, but discussions are continuing.

This week, the US State Department will host a meeting between US officials and representatives of EU countries whose citizens still need visas, and these are Croatia, Poland, Romania, Bulgaria and Cyprus. Croatia has long met one of the two conditions for entry into the visa exemption programme, the one that concerns political and security criteria, but the second condition – the refusal rate below three per cent – does not seem likely to be met anytime soon. Moreover, after several years of declining, the ratio rose slightly last year.

In the vast majority of rejected cases, the applicants could not prove that they had a secure source of funding and a permanent job in Croatia, which is a guarantee to American authorities that they will return to their homeland after the visit. It is interesting that many applicants for US visas have cited close links with families living in the United States who own businesses there, which was an additional indicator that these persons might stay in the United States and work with relatives.

Unlike Croatia, which has had between five and six per cent of rejected application for years, US data shows that one of the five European states that still need US visas made a significant step towards bringing the rejection rate below three per cent last year. It is Poland, which had a rate of 5.92 per cent in 2017, and last year brought it down to 3.99 per cent.

But this year could bring some more positive results for Croatia. The visas are usually issued for ten years, and this year they expire for a large number of people. If the people with visas ask for them to be reissued, there is no reason why Americans would refuse them because these people have already travelled to the USA and returned to Croatia. A large number of renewed visas could benefit Croatia.

At the political level, there is another option that is being discussed at the level of individual states, the EU and the US, and will continue at formal meetings, including during the Croatian presidency of the European Union. The American president can make a discretionary decision to “protect” some states and place them in a visa waiver programme. When discussing such a possibility, only two countries – Poland and Croatia – are being mentioned.

More news about relations between Croatia and the United States can be found in the Politics section.

Translated from Večernji List (reported by Sandra Veljković).


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