English | Русский | Français | Español
2009-02-02  6 more countries don't need visas
Citizens of six more countries can travel to the USA without visas. Since November 17 the USA extended Visa Waiver Program for six more countries of EU (Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Hungary, Slovakia, Czech Republic), and South Korea. The citizens of these countries are allowed to stay in US for 90 days a year having neither work nor study permit. But if you want to immigrate into the United States or you intend to visit this country for more than 90 days, you will still have to turn to an embassy or consulate for a visa. But if you travel for business or pleasure, as the consul of US in Latvia, Stephen Fram, announced, it will be enough for you to have your biometrical passport and to fill in a special ESTA form in the internet. This form is in English and is required even for children. You need to indicate the following information: the passport data, the flight number and the address of your residence in the USA. This form also contains some questions about recent infectious diseases, acts of crimes involving moral turpitude and your previous visits to the USA. This application should be submitted at least 72 hours prior to travel. If ESTA declines your request, you will have to go to the embassy for obtaining a visa. Although if your ESTA application is approved, it does not guarantee that you are admissible to the United States, as the terminal decision will be made by a Customs and Border Protection officer. In spite of a bulk of nuances Latvia parliament deputy and ex-minister of foreign affairs, Artis Pabriks, considers these changes to be very positive. In the interview with a correspondent of the newspaper “Gazeta” he enumerated the main, in his opinion, pluses of the Visa Waiver Program. “First of all, it will be much easier to travel. Secondly, we canceled visa system for the citizens of the USA, and such a state was quite inadequate and unfair, but now the situation is equalized. Thirdly, it will be easier to develop the business relationships between our countries,” he noted. “Now local airlines will be able to organize flights to the USA, but before they couldn’t even dream about it. And fourthly, the abolition of visa system in the USA put Latvia on a par with the other European countries.” In spite of the benefits, Latvian citizens didn’t rush to buy tickets for the next flights to the USA. Travel business experts explain this situation as caution connected with the current economic circumstances. According to their opinion, in the nearest six months Latvian citizens will be watching and finding out the prices. By the summer the situation might change. In the near future the USA is going to extend the Visa Waiver Program. The negotiations with Bulgaria, Greece, Cyprus, Malta, Poland and Romania are still going on.