U.S. travel policy sparks ‘visa war,’ meaning extra paperwork for Americans traveling to Europe – OregonLive.com

If you’re planning on a summer vacation in Europe this year, be prepared to do some extra paperwork ahead of time.

For years, Americans have enjoyed visa-free travel in the Old World, but no more. The European Parliament voted last month to temporarily close off that luxury “within two months.”

It’s a bit of political tit for tat that the European legislators recognize will hurt their countries’ economies. The U.S. requires visas for travelers from Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Poland and Romania, all European Union members. The other countries in the EU participate in the U.S.’ visa-waiver program.

“Making it more difficult for U.S. citizens to travel to Europe would certainly deprive the European travel and tourism sector of essential revenue, and put thousands of European jobs at stake in one of the few sectors which experienced a strong growth in employment,” European Travel Commission Executive Director Eduardo Santander said in a letter to EU legislators.

An EU official acknowledged to Britain’s The Telegraph newspaper that the vote was a “serious negative step in the EU-USA visa war.”

Still, it had to be done. European Union rules require equal treatment of all its members’ citizens. The U.S. visa requirement for the five European Union members predates the Trump Administration, but European politicians believe President Donald Trump’s recent executive order banning U.S.-bound travel from a handful of non-EU, Muslim-majority states has made a resolution to the dispute less likely.

Responded the U.S. State Department:

“The objective of the U.S. Visa Waiver Program is to facilitate travel to the United States while maintaining the highest standards of screening to protect national security. The program is open to countries that have very low non-immigrant visitor visa refusal rates and immigration violations, issue secure travel documents, and work closely with U.S. law enforcement and security authorities.”

The European Union made clear that it is seeking a diplomatic solution to the visa-reciprocity kerfuffle and remains hopeful that a planned U.S.-EU meeting in June will result in visa waivers being granted to the excluded EU members, thus negating the need for Europe’s retaliatory measure.

— Douglas Perry

U.S. travel policy sparks ‘visa war,’ meaning extra paperwork for Americans traveling to Europe – OregonLive.com

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