Good News for Croatian Citizens Visiting the US, as Visa Requirements Could Soon be Waived
When visiting the US, foreign nationals are required to have either a visa, or an ESTA (if they are eligible). The US operates with a strict security process of screening people who are entering the US and the countries that are in the Visa Waiver Program have to pass a set of criteria before they can become members.
Currently, Croatian citizens must apply for a visa to get travel authorization to visit the US. This takes much longer to process than the ESTA that citizens from VWP countries can apply for. Obtaining a visa also costs more and requires an interview with the US Embassy to determine whether the application will be accepted.
However, there is good news for Croatian citizens who want to travel to the US for business or tourism purposes, as they could soon become eligible for the ESTA under the Visa Waiver Program. The key criteria that Croatia has been working towards is reducing the visa refusal rate to below 3 per cent. They have managed to reduce the rate from 5.96 to 4.02 per cent and are on track to reach that 3 per cent threshold that is required.
Following Poland’s success in reducing visa refusal rates
Poland has been able to significantly reduce their number of refusals and have been added to the VWP as a result. The US has encouraged Croatia to look at the systems that Poland have put in place in order to achieve the required reduction to under 3 per cent.
Croatia is one of just four EU member states that require a visa to travel to the US. The other three countries are Bulgaria, Cyprus and Romania. Due to having a visa rejection rate too high, they will need to reduce their rates to be considered for entering the VWP.
Reasons for visa rejections
One of the screening processes for visa applications includes evidence of a secure source of income. Visa applicants must be able to demonstrate that they have the money for flights, or already have return flights booked, to prove that they are planning to return to their home country. They must also have the money to pay living costs whilst they are on their trip.
What is an ESTA?
ESTA stands for Electronic System for Travel Authorization and it is applied for using a simple online form that can be completed within around 10 minutes. The applicant must answer a set of questions regarding their identity, as well as information about their background such as whether they have any criminal convictions or if they have any health issues. All of the information that they provide will then be checked to determine whether the application will be accepted.
Usually, an ESTA will be approved within just a few hours but it is recommended to apply at least 72 hours prior to the intended travel time. The ESTA is automatically linked to the applicant’s passport.