POLITICS

Third edition of US visa campaign kicks off

The novelty this year is the information on overstay.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MAE) and the US Embassy in Bucharest yesterday launched the third edition of the information campaign for obtaining a visa for the United States, aimed at reducing the application denial rate as well as the visa overstay rate. ‘Having in mind (…) the decreasing refusal rate – in 2009 it was 26.3 per cent, in 2010 – 24.8 per cent and in 2011 – 22.4 per cent – we have decided to move to the next stage of the programme. (…) The intention this year is to send the message to citizens interested in obtaining a temporary visa for the US via Facebook, with the help of an especially designed programme that will be completed by a radio spot,’ MAE Secretary of State Bogdan Aurescu explained, according to Mediafax. He pointed out that the main novelty of the campaign this year is that extra information is given on the non-immigrant visa overstay rate, as it may become a new criterion for joining the Visa Waiver programme under the new legislation currently in process of adoption in the US. Aurescu actually said Romania would take steps towards members of the US Congress for the adoption of the Visa Waiver legislation as soon as possible, which would increase the chance that our country is also included. ‘We will keep taking steps also with members of the US Congress for expediting and finalisation in the shortest time possible the legislative process in progress. (…) We hope the new bill will benefit from the full support of the American administration. (…) I can tell you that, based on the evaluations applicable now, Romania is below the 3 per cent visa overstay rate,’ Aurescu said.Stephen Vann, General Consul of the US in Bucharest, in turn noted that, in 2011, a total of 32,000 Romanian citizens had received a visa. As for the information campaign launched yesterday, Stephen Vann said the US Embassy was offering applicants all the information they need right on the website of the institution, as well as a practical guidebook in the Romanian language, available on the Youtube. He noted that a system for the online scheduling of the interview at the Consulate would be introduced in September, replacing the current one via the call centre. Apart from the radio spot, links to the information sections of the campaign are also hosted on the MEA and US Embassy websites, as well as on their respective Facebook and Twitter pages.In an interview to TVR Info, two weeks ago, US Ambassador in Bucharest Mark Gitenstein said there was support for a new Visa Waiver legislative initiative from the Democrats as well as some Republicans, but noted that the new law would most likely be adopted only at the beginning of 2013, after the presidential election in the United States this autumn.  Romania, Poland and Bulgaria are currently the EU member states that still need visas for the United States, not being included in the Visa Waiver programme for the reason that they have a rate of declined visa applications of over 3 per cent. Cyprus is also not included, the reason in its case being its domestic issues.

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