AP NEWS

Polish citizens to travel visa-free to US from next week

November 6, 2019 GMT

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Polish citizens will be able to travel to the U.S. without a visa from next week, officials said.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security said Wednesday that including Poland — a “trusted partner” — in the Visa Waiver Program was testament to the two countries’ “special relationship” and close cooperation on security issues.

Poland becomes the 39th nation to be covered by the program. Visa-free travel means Poles will still need to enter data into an online registry system, but will no longer need to stand in lines to see a consul, and the fee is down to $14 from the previous $160.

The move is designed to boost business and tourism, as well as cultural ties.

In Warsaw, President Andrzej Duda said it was “important and good news” for the 37 million people in Poland and around 10 million Poles in the U.S. From Monday, Nov. 11, Poland’s Independence Day, Poles won’t require visas for tourist or business trips of up to 90 days.

Standing alongside the president, the U.S.’s ambassador to Poland, Georgette Mosbacher, said that Duda had told her it was a matter of “national pride.”

Duda thanked President Donald Trump for including Poland in the Visa Waiver Program. Poland has sought inclusion in the program since the 1990s following the end of communism.

Senator Jan Maria Jackowski, who is from the ruling Law and Justice Party, said Poles felt a “bit like second-class people” despite “very good relations with the U.S.” since the 18th century.

“Our honor and national pride have been somehow violated because the visa system is onerous,” he said.

According to the Department of Homeland Security, 23 million travelers arrived in the U.S. through the Visa Waver Program in 2017, generating around $190 billion which supported nearly 1 million jobs.