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AIT explains visa-waiver on social network

TAIPEI -- The American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) said on its Facebook page yesterday that Taiwan nationals have been accorded the same treatment as the other members of the U.S. Visa Waiver Program (VWP).

Taiwan nationals are required to obtain an approved Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) before traveling visa-free to the United States, like all other VWP members, the AIT said.

All VWP travelers, including Taiwan nationals, pay the same ESTA fee, said the AIT, which represents U.S. interests in Taiwan in the absence of formal diplomatic ties.

The AIT said it is looking forward to Nov. 1, when the U.S. visa waiver concession for Taiwan nationals will take effect.

The U.S. announced in early October that Taiwan has been approved for inclusion in its VWP, which means eligible passport holders will be able to travel to the U.S. for tourism or business for stays of up to 90 days without a visa.

The AIT also listed some frequently asked questions on its official website, for the Taiwan public's reference.

In related news, Taiwan's Premier Sean Chen said he will assign the government's top personnel office to examine a post on Facebook by Shih Wen-yi, deputy director-general of Centers for Disease Control, regarding the VWP.

Shih wrote on his Facebook page earlier this week that Taiwan's admission to the VWP is “not really visa-free treatment.”

“Real visa-free treatment would be if Taiwan nationals were allowed to enter the country with just a plane ticket and a valid passport,” he said.

Chen said the Directorate-General of Personnel Administration will decide whether Shih's remark was in violation of the Public Functionary Service Act.

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