Victoria J. Taylor, the US Ambassador in Zagreb, has confirmed that Croatians will soon be granted visa-free travel to the United States after the country met a key condition to join the Visa Waiver Program for the USA.
Foreign citizens included in the US Visa Waiver Program are able to travel to the United States for purposes of tourism and business for stays of up to 90 days without a visa with each entry.
In order to gain visa-free entry to the USA, citizens of Croatia will simply be required to submit an application for a US ESTA, an electronic travel authorization which, once approved, allows multiple entries to the United States during its 2-year validity.
Croatia Meets Key Requirement for US Visa-Free Travel
While all counties in the European Schengen Area are already part of the visa waiver scheme, new European Union countries such as Croatia, Cyprus, Bulgaria, and Romania still had to meet some mandatory criteria in order to qualify.
However, Taylor has confirmed that Croatia has now met a key stipulation to gain visa-free entry: the need for the rejection rate for US tourist and business visa applications from Croatian citizens to fall below 3%.
Croatia has been working to reduce their refusal rate from roughly 5.9% over the past 3 years, and finally managed to achieve a rejection rate of around 2.69% in September 2020, meaning that it now qualifies for the visa waiver program.
Croatian Visa Exemption for US within the Coming Year
In a tweet issued on February 16th, 2021, Taylor thanked the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs of the Republic of Croatia, the Ministry of Interior Affairs of the Republic of Croatia and the Croatian government for the “substantive progress on key Visa Waiver Program (VWP) requirements, from data sharing to border security.”
However, Taylor clarified that while “Croatia already complies with many of the security requirements for the VWP”, some additional requirements still need to be met in order for Croatians to be granted visa exemption for the United States.
Nevertheless, she affirmed that “Croatia has committed to completing the remaining requirements in the coming year” and that updates would soon be announced as additional progress was made.
While a specific date for the implementation of US visa-free travel for citizens of Croatia has not yet been announced, Taylor states that “the United States remains focused on working with Croatian government partners to meet all remaining security requirements” and that “the teamwork continues”.