Romania already meets a part of the Visa Waiver Program requirements, U.S. Consul General in Bucharest Henry Leighton said on Wednesday, adding that a Romanian–US working group on consular matters is handling the rest of the requirements.
Leighton said that the criteria a country needs to fulfill in order to access this program include strengthening the legal framework for data sharing with the U.S., the introduction of e-passports, particular counterterrorism measures, but also the decrease of the visa refusal rate to less than 3 percent in a fiscal year. The U.S. official exemplified that last year the refusal rate for Romania dropped below 10 percent for the first time, precisely to 9.8 percent. The refusal rate was over 20 percent until 2012.
According to the US consul, 42,000 Romanians have asked for temporary touristic or business visa in USA last year.
He also said that this year there are 10 percent more applications compared to the same period of 2014 and if the trend is continuing, 45,000 requests should be processed by year end.
Among the visas granted in 2014, over 5,500 were for navy officers and air staff, over 5,400 for Summer Work Travel program and cultural exchange programs, over 1,000 were temporary work visas and 1,000 were immigrations visas.
Other 400 visas were granted for studies, other 400 for Visas Lottery, 200 for engagements and three for international adoptions.
Henry Leighton reminded that several countries have joined the Visa Waiver Program around 2008, when the 3 percent refusal rate threshold was removed, but explained that the law allowing this is no longer in force.