US visa waiver for Poles included in Republicans' 2016 platform
PR dla Zagranicy
A platform adopted by the Republican Party at its national convention in Cleveland, Ohio, on Monday, contains a clause on including Poles in the US’s visa waiver programme, news website Onet.pl reports.
Delegates as the roll call for nomination nears on the second day of the 2016 Republican National Convention at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio, USA, 19 July 2016. The four-day convention is expected to end with Donald Trump formally accepting the nomination of the Republican Party as their presidential candidate in the 2016 election. Photo:
The amendment was forwarded by former US ambassador to Poland, Victor Ashe, currently a Republican delegate of Knoxville, Tennessee.
While the platform is a non-binding overview of the party’s policy goals, Ashe says that it could pave the way for visa-free travel for Poles to the United States as soon as next year.
“This is a long-sought goal for Polish Americans and, hopefully, it may happen in 2017,” Ashe wrote in an article for Tennessee-based daily Sentinel News.
The Republicans’ 2016 Party Platform’s section titled “America Resurgent”, which includes policies on US allies in Europe, includes a one-sentence amendment on including Poles in the visa waiver programme.
“We urge that Poland be granted visa waiver status and we support placement of NATO troops in Poland,” the document reads.
A subsection headlined “renewing the European Alliance” includes words of gratitude forwarded to “several nations” for their support of US military operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and their “sacrifice in the fight against Islamic terrorism.”
The document also called for “greater coordination in economic and security affairs between the United States and the republics of Eastern Europe.”
The issue of visa-free travel “is a major irritant in Polish-American relations,” Victor Ashe told Toledo-based daily The Blade. “Poland is not in the visa waiver program whereas other countries that are less friendly to us are,” he went on to say.
The visa waiver programme allows for a visa-free trip to the United States for a period of 90 days. Poland is one of five EU countries that have not been included in the programme.
Enabling visa-free travel to Poland has long been on the lips of successive presidential candidates and incumbents in the United States. However, the number of rejections of tourist visa applications by Poles remains well above the three percent needed in order for a country to qualify for the Visa Waiver Program.
The refusal rate has, meanwhile, seen a steady drop in recent years, falling from 26.2 percent in 2006 to an all-time low of 6.4 percent in 2014. (aba)
Source: Onet.pl, The Blade, Sentinel News