Plan to cancel nonimmigrant US visa requirements for Israelis underway

After a long process, an agreement towards the removal of US visa requirements for Israeli passport holders is being formulated after the privacy concerns were resolved.
Israeli passports may be the only thing needed soon Photo Credit: Yonatan Sindel Flash90/Channel 2 News

Israeli Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked announced that the plan to cancel the US nonimmigrant visa requirements for the holders of Israeli passports is being completed. The agreement will include permitting US access to the Israeli biometric fingerprint database.

“[We are] completing the agreement to cancel the visas. Since I began my post, we have been working with the Americans in order to join the selected group of countries whose citizens are exempt from obtaining an entry visa to the US. We have found the balance between maintaining the privacy of Israeli citizens and the American demands,” tweeted Shaked on Monday.

The agreement can be authorized only after the Biometric Database Law is amended by the Knesset. With the existing law, citizens’ private information cannot be relayed to foreign authorities unless a criminal investigation is involved and in that case, they may only be given the details temporarily. Shaked explained that the understandings include sharing fingerprint databases only in the case of people with a criminal background, a fact that resolved the Israeli privacy objections to the move.

These latest developments are a first in the agreement process between the countries. The talks started during former US President Barack Obama’s administration but were stalled due to disagreements on the Israeli side surrounding the privacy issues.



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