Big decision of US amid Israel-Hamas war
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Big decision of US amid Israel-Hamas war, visa free travel for Israeli citizens

Visa-free travel for short-term visits to the U.S. for Israelis is now available under U.S. Visa Waiver Program starting on October 19, 2023. This means that eligible Israeli citizens and nationals can now apply for authorization to travel to the United States through the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) for up to 90 days on business or tourism without having to first obtain a visa.

The admittance came earlier than estimated. On Sept. 27, when admittance to VWP was announced, authorities said it would take until Nov. 30 to complete.

To be eligible for ESTA, Israeli citizens and nationals must meet the following requirements:

  • Be a citizen or national of an eligible country, including Israel
  • Have a valid passport from an eligible country
  • Have a return or onward ticket
  • Be visiting the United States for tourism or business purposes for up to 90 days
  • Have not been convicted of a felony or two or more misdemeanors
  • Not be inadmissible to the United States under other immigration laws

If you are an Israeli citizen or national and meet the above requirements, you can apply for ESTA online at the CBP website. Once your ESTA application is approved, you will be able to travel to the United States without a visa.

It is important to note that ESTA is not a visa, and it does not guarantee entry into the United States. CBP officers at the port of entry have the final say on whether or not to allow you into the country.

“Israel’s entry into the Visa Waiver Program represents a critical step forward in our strategic partnership with Israel that will further strengthen long-standing people-to-people engagement, economic cooperation, and security coordination between our two countries,” Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken said in a Sept. 27 statement.

The VWP requires the person looking to come to the U.S. sans visa to “be from a country that extends to U.S. citizens and nationals the privileges we would extend to their citizens and nationals,” according to a DHS press release.

People can apply for the program via the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) or via its mobile app. Approval may take up to 72 hours.

To be eligible for VWP, Israeli citizens and nationals must have a biometrically enabled passport book. Currently, the application is only available in English, but other languages are slated to come on Nov. 1.

The change comes as the conflict continues to build in the Middle East. The death toll of Israelis and Palestinians surpassed 5,000 on Thursday, becoming the deadliest war on the Gaza Strip.

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