How the Visa Waiver Affects the U.S. Government
The United States government does not exist in a vacuum. For the U.S. to flourish, it is critical for the government to form strong international partnerships. The Visa Waiver program is one way the government is attempting to do just that.
Earlier this year, Congress opened the door for a solution to the visa waiver problem between the U.S. and several of its allies. Then, in March, the Hungarian, Slovakian, and Lithuanian governments signed MOUs (memoranda of understand) committing the U.S. government to help them qualify for the waiver program. In exchange, the U.S. would receive increased security assistance. These countries follow in the footsteps of the Czech Republic, Latvia and Estonia, who have done the same in the past. These agreements are very significant steps in the reciprocal relationships between the United States and these countries.
Hungarian Ambassador Ferenc Somogyi put it this way at the signing of the agreement: "Liberty manifests itself in the freedom to travel ¦.Equality means equal access to each other's countries as well as not to be considered second-class members of the European Union.
Since its inception in 1986, the visa waiver program has allowed visa requirements for certain visitors to the U.S. to be waived, and given citizens of certain countries (those who can be "reliably expected to return home ) 90 days of visa-free travel. Primarily, those granted the visa-free travel have come from other affluent countries such as Japan and Australia. The assumption is that if they already live in a wealthy country, the temptation to stay in the U.S. would not be as strong as if they came from an impoverished or war-torn environment.
Without the waiver, potential visitors have to go the U.S. Embassy, pay a fee and be interviewed by a consular officer. Often they are rejected for questionable reasons, and this unfair situation has been illuminated as some of the