After years of rumors and preparations, now it's official: the US government announced today (Wednesday) Israel's addition to the list of visa-exempt countries, Israelis will be able to enter the country without a visa starting this coming November. Israel is the 41st country to join the American program.
Acting US Ambassador to Israel, Stephanie Hallett, said "I want to congratulate Israel as a 41st member of the Visa Waiver Program - so congratulations. This decision shows the close relationship between the two countries."
However, Hallett clarified that "it's not that Israelis can now fly to the US freely." According to the plan, Israelis will have to fill out a virtual form and apply online, after which a residence visa of up to 90 days will be received within 72 hours. The visa exemption is granted for tourism and business purposes, with the approval valid for two years.
Foreign Minister Eli Cohen welcomed the move and said "This is good news for all citizens of Israel! As we already announced at the beginning of the year, within a few weeks Israelis will be able to visit the United States without the need for a long wait for a visa from the American Embassy. Israel joining the visa exemption program is a political achievement and good news for all citizens of Israel. The visa exemption will contribute to the economy in general and tourism in particular while reducing bureaucracy and costs."
Cohen also thanked the American government for supporting the process and explained: "I thank the President of the United States Joe Biden and my friend Secretary of State Antony Blinken for their support and leadership in granting visa exemptions to Israelis, and especially the outgoing US Ambassador Tom Nides for leading the project here in Israel."