Congressmen draft bill to add Israel to visa-waiver program

WASHINGTON – A bipartisan, bicameral group of congressmen has drafted legislation that would allow Israelis to visit the United States for 90 days without a visa.
The bill, announced at a press conference Tuesday, would grant Israel the same status as 37 other US allies and help Israeli tourists and businessmen come to America more easily.
Rep. Brad Sherman (D-California), who is sponsoring the house version along with Rep. Ted Poe (R-Texas), said that he believed the measure would pass during the two-year tenure of current Congress but could take many months.
Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) is entering similar legislation in the US Senate.
Several years ago, the US passed a law allowing countries for which less than 10 percent of visa applications are turned down to participate in the visa waiver program. Since 2007, many countries with higher refusal rate’s than Israel’s 6.9% were approved by the State Department, including Lithuania, Latvia and Hungary, whose 2008 refusal rates were 9%, 8.3% and 7.8% respectively.