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brbrDespite Fighting Alongside America in Iraq and Afghanistan, Poland is One of the Only European Countries Not Able to Travel to America Under U.S. Visa Waiver Program Schumers Legislation Will Allow Polish Citizens to Get Expedited VisasbrbrSchumer Meets with Ambassador Ryszard Schnepf About Including Poland in Visa Waiver Program; Changing Law is One of Highest Priorities for Polish Government Polish-AmericansbrbrSchumer Was Presented With National Medal of Honor from Poland for Continuall


U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today met with the Ambassador of Poland to the United States of America, Ryszard Schnepf, about his support for making Poland eligible for the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) in the pending comprehensive immigration reform bill. Schumer announced this effort in April at the Dyngus Day parade in Buffalo, New York.


"Despite the fact that Poland is a stalwart ally, whose troops fought alongside ours in Iraq and Afghanistan, Poland is one of the only European countries excluded from the visa program that would allow Polish citizens to travel to New York for leisure or business more easily. That needs to change," said Schumer. Schumer is one of several Senators leading the immigration reform discussions, and, along with partners like Senator Barbara Mikulski, will fight to include the "JOLT" Act - Jobs Originated Through Launching Travel - that will reform outdated visa laws to cut through red tape that has caused a lag in foreign travel to the U.S.


Ambassador Schnepf today presented Schumer with the National Medal of Honor from Poland for his hard work and leadership on this issue.


"Polish Americans have long been unfairly excluded from the Visa Waiver Program and I'm proud to lead the charge to change that," said Schumer. "This legislation will make Poland eligible for the Visa Waiver Program and expedite travel arrangements for Polish citizens to visit America, which is good for our economy, will create jobs and will nurture the strength and vibrancy of our Polish American communities across the United States," said Schumer. "I'd like to thank Ambassador Ryszard Schnepf for meeting with me today to discuss this very important issue and I pledge to continue fighting for PolishAmericans to be included in comprehensive immigration reform."


Currently, Poland is the only member of the 25country eurozone not able to travel to the United States under the US Visa Waiver program. The Visa Waiver program gives citizens of selected countries the ability to travel to the US under the ESTA program, rather than go through the more lengthy and complicated US Tourist Visa application process. Poland has stood shouldertoshoulder with the U.S. over the past two decades on issues that include deployment of troops to Afghanistan and Iraq, willingness to serve as a forward outpost for our missile defense shield, and being a reliable voice on behalf of the transAtlantic partnership in European Union councils.


Schumer's effort, which he has prioritized in Comprehensive Immigration Reform, would make Poland part of the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) and would allow citizens to travel to the United States without a visa for stays of 90 days or less, when they meet all requirements. Travelers must be eligible to use the VWP and have a valid Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) approval prior to travel. The Visa Waiver Program (VWP) allows citizens of participating countries to travel to the United States without obtaining a visa , for business, tourism, visiting or pleasure.


The JOLT Act would amend s the Immigration and Nationality Act regarding the visa waiver program to: (1) authorize the Secretary of Homeland Security (DHS), in consultation with the Secretary of State, to designate program countries, like Poland; (2) adjust the criteria for visa refusal rates to permit entry into the program if a country has a low visa overstay rate, which Poland does; (3) set a maximum three percent visa overstay rate for program countries, which Poland would likely not exceed; and (4) revise probationary status and program termination provisions.  It also directs the Comptroller General to review the Secretary of Homeland Security's methods for tracking aliens entering and exiting the United States and for detecting visa overstays. These revisions would likely lead to Poland's admission into the Visa Waiver Program.


While the global travel market is expected to double over the next decade, the United States' market share of this industry has declined by five percent since 2000. The JOLT Act is aimed at reversing that trend and recapturing the United States' historic share of worldwide overseas travel, which could add nearly $100 billion to the economy over the next decade and create nearly 700,000 more American jobs. If Poland gained entry to VWP and saw a similar increase, the additional visitors to the United States would create $181 million in new spending and support 1,500 new jobs.