I’ve received some interesting comments to my US Embassy post(s) and as a result, I’ve wondered which countries are spared the ignominy of applying for the “overrated” US visa. My Google quest of course led me to the US Department of State website which has a portion dedicated to the US government’s Visa Waiver Program (VWP). The VWP is the program where nationals of certain countries can travel to the United States without a visa provided they plan to only stay “for 90 days or less for tourism or business.”
Only three countries in Asia are in the list: Japan, Singapore, and Brunei. Most are in Europe, the Pacific (Australia, New Zealand) and I still have to consult Wikipedia to know exactly where Andorra is 😛 Of course, if it makes you feel better, there are 174 other countries in the world which are not in the list and have to get their b*tt to the US Embassy each time.
The full rundown of VWP participating-countries:
Andorra, Iceland , Norway, Australia, Ireland, Portugal, Austria, Italy, San Marino, Belgium, Japan Singapore, Brunei , Liechtenstein, Slovenia, Denmark , Luxembourg, Spain, Finland, Monaco, Sweden, France, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Germany, New Zealand, United Kingdom.
Countries which have signed a Memorandum of Understanding and where the full implementation of VWP is under review: Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Korea, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, and Slovakia.
Initial reaction to the list: we’ve always prided ourselves of centuries of friendship with Americans and I wonder why been we’ve been “outshone” by Slovenia, Slovakia and the rest of them.
At first glance, it seems that economic wealth of the country is used as a basis for visa waiver but most are in the low population category too (think of the Republic of San Marino which only has a population of 30,000 people, or Lichtenstein and Monaco).
Considering that the requirements for admission under the program is “a very low non-immigrant refusal rate,” the integrity of the passport process (no fakes), and the ability to address security/law enforcement threats, looks like the Philippines will not be in the program in a hundred years. Tsk, tsk!