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!