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Work remains to be done before Cyprus can join US visa waiver programme

(Source: InBusinessNews 19/06/2024)


"We are at the final stage regarding the issue of entry visas to the USA," President of the Republic Nikos Christodoulides has said.

He was speaking at the start of the 19 June Council of Ministers meeting at the Presidential Palace.

Addressing the members of the Government, the President of the Republic indicated the importance of the Strategic Dialogue agreement between the Republic of Cyprus and the USA and invited all members of the Cabinet to work towards the implementation of the agreement.

As he indicated, it touches many Ministries and many issues, such as energy, security, trade, investment attraction, research and technology, culture and therefore, the cooperation of all is needed.

"At the same time," President Christodoulides pointed out, "towards achieving the goal of the Republic of Cyprus joining the US programme where holders of Cypriot passports do not need entry visas, we are in the final stage, that's why I expect everyone to work for the realisation of this objective."

Also speaking on 19 June, Government Spokesman Konstantinos Letymbiotis said the goal of abolishing entry visas to the US by the end of 2024 or the beginning of 2025 is completely achievable.

In statements at the Presidential Palace after the meeting of the Council of Ministers, and asked to refer to a statement by the President of the Republic, Nikos Christodoulides, that we are at the final stage in the issue of entry visas to the USA, the Spokesperson recalled that during the visit of the Minister of Foreign Affairs to the USA one of the last pending agreements for the inclusion of Cyprus in this programme has been signed and after this agreement, the country is essentially entering the final stage for its inclusion.

Letymbiotis said that the Deputy Minister under the President, who has been appointed since last year as the coordinator of the efforts for the inclusion of our country in the programme, where a visa will not be needed for holders of Cypriot passports when they travel to the USA, is preparing the data, which will then be delivered to the US authorities.

He explained that what remains is a practical difficulty that exists as a parametre from the US side, namely that the rejection rate be less than 3%.

"In other words, out of 100 applications made by Cypriot passport holders, less than three are rejected. Last year we were very close to the goal, we hope that this year we will be able to reach the goal. There is still an agreement to be signed and we hope that this will be done in the very immediate future," he said.

Letymbiotis said that Cyprus is fulfilling all its obligations and the difficulty of 3% remains, but the government is optimistic that Cyprus will be able to reach this goal.

"Once this data is submitted there will be a period of approximately three months for the US to evaluate whether to accept or reject the rate. So, the target of late 2024 to early 2025 is perfectly achievable and it is a target that has been set from the first moment of this administration assuming its duties," he said.

Responding to another question the Spokesperson said that any country applying to join the programme must meet the rejection rate criterion.