DIPLOMACY

US Ambassador: Immigration, sensitive, highly politicized topic in the US; hope to change legislation after elections

US Ambassador to Romania Hans Klemm said in southwestern Craiova on Wednesday that immigration is a sensitive and highly politicized topic in the US, however he hopes that the legislation in the area be changed after the elections, including the Visa Waiver program which will also be talked about as part of the strategic dialogue to take place in two weeks’ time in Washington.

As you know, immigration is a sensitive and extremely politicized topic in the US and there haven’t been any changes over the past two years in respect to this topic. Moreover, immigration is a central topic in the election campaign this year, and the two candidates have extremely different approaches in respect to this topic. Therefore, now we must wait for the elections’ result, not only for that of the presidential elections of November, but also that of the legislative elections, as many Congress members will have to be changed this year. We hope that afterwards we will be able to attempt an immigration legislation modification, including the Visa Waiver program, Klemm said in Craiova, in reply to a question on the Visa Waiver program which he said it’s a very important topic and a priority to Romania’s Ambassador to the US George Maior.

The US Ambassador explained that the programme is established under the US legislation and in the US case there are five legal requirements a country must meet to enter the programme, and Romania has only met four of the five requirements.

In Romania’s case, these are connected with the information exchanges and the passport regime, however Romania has met four of the requirements. All these criteria are strict, however the strictest of them is the one referring to the refusal rate. According to the legislation, the refusal rate must be under 3 percent. In Romania’s case, at present the refusal rate exceeds 10 percent, it recorded a decline, but unfortunately it is still high. With President Obama’s support and my own, Congress members have proposed a legislative initiative meant to increase this refusal rate threshold. If this initiative succeeds, the refusal rate would grow and it would be a good situation for Romania, but also for Poland, which is not a Visa Waiver part either. Bulgaria could also be included. Unfortunately, this legislative proposal hasn’t registered any progress in Congress, Ambassador Klemm also said.

The US Ambassador underscored that at present nine out of ten Romanians obtain the US entry visa and manage to travel to the US. We are trying to make the visa request process as simple and as transparent as possible and provide the visa applicants as many pieces of information. I encourage all those interested in traveling to the US to access the US Embassy website, where they will find very many pieces of information about the visa request process, including videos explaining this process, Klemm pointed out, according to Agerpres.

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