Visa-waiver talks with US enter final stages: envoy
CNAWASHINGTON -- Taiwan's application to participate in the United States' visa-waiver program is entering the final stages, said Leo Lee, Taiwan's deputy representative to the U.S., on Thursday.
October 1, 2011, 12:16 am TWN
Lee predicted that Taiwan would likely be listed as a candidate country by the end of this year, but he cautioned that once that happened, there was no set timetable on how long it would take for a country to actually obtain visa-free status.
He said that once the list of candidates is announced, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security may send an inspection team to Taiwan to survey the country's immigration situation and passport-issuance process.
When the department completes its assessment, it notifies Congress, and once both bodies are satisfied with the arrangements in place, the U.S. publicly announces its approval, Lee said.
In the case of South Korea, Lee said, it only took a month to gain visa-waiver program approval after being announced as a candidate in October 2008.
Prior to South Korea's fast-track entry, the country had signed an anti-terrorism memorandum of understanding with the U.S. in April 2008, Lee said.
The deputy representative also stressed that the visa-waiver talks between the two countries were not based on any special conditions.
If Taiwan were to obtain visa-free status, it would be granted the same conditions as other countries participating in the program, with travelers allowed to stay in the U.S. for 90 days without a visa, Lee said.
The 36 countries currently participating in the U.S. visa-waiver program are mostly European countries. The only Asian countries in the program are Japan, South Korea, Singapore and Brunei.