“Today, I nominated Croatia to join the Visa Waiver Program. This step towards visa-free travel recognizes Croatia’s tremendous progress to meet the rigorous standards for participant countries. We look forward to an even stronger U.S.-Croatia relationship.”
Prime Minister Andrej Plenković responded with two tweets:
“We confirm the partnership between Croatia and the United States, and the greatest benefit of abolishing visas will benefit Croatian citizens who will be able to travel freely to America. We look forward to further developing economic cooperation and business ties!”
“I thank Secretary of State Blinken for inviting Croatia to the Visa Waiver Program, which is one of the last steps to abolish visas for citizens. With the intensive work of the Croatian Government, Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs, and Ministry of Internal Affairs to fulfill the conditions, we will realize one of the foreign policy priorities.”
Recall, visas for the United States should be abolished no later than September 30 – the end of the US fiscal year, reports Index.hr.
Croatia has been working on the visa waiver since 2007. While the abolition of visas has often been linked to the rate of refusals, there has been – and continues to be – intense communication and work to meet strict security criteria.
In the last few years, the Ministry of the Interior has been cooperating intensively with the US Department of Homeland Security to strengthen security capacities such as border security, migration, and international protection, collect and analyze data on cross-border passengers and air passengers, fight terrorism and exchange data on foreign terrorist fighters and information exchange.
Before the evaluation visit to Croatia, the Ministry of the Interior is conducting virtual pre-evaluation meetings with the US Department of Homeland Security to exchange information.
The abolition of visas has been an unresolved diplomatic issue in relations between the two countries for almost 30 years. Several preconditions need to be met to enter the visa-free program, and the last that Croatia had to meet was less than three percent of rejected applications.
Croatia, Romania, Bulgaria, and Cyprus are the only EU members whose visas have not yet been abolished by the United States. Back in 2014, the European Commission asked the United States to abolish visas for Croatia and other EU countries whose citizens still had to have the document to enter the United States. They even threatened reciprocal measures, but it did not happen.
Poland was excluded from the regime only late last year, after conducting a campaign to encourage business people and officials who were almost certain to obtain a visa to apply.
A similar campaign was conducted this year by Croatia, which already on September 30 last year, when the fiscal year in America ended, lowered the number of rejected requests to four percent and was no longer far from achieving the goal.
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