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S.Korea Likely to Participate in U.S. Visa Waiver Program Shortly
Visa applicants at the US Embassy in Seoul

The U.S. Senate on March 13, 2007 passed a bill that may pave the way for S. Korean passport holders to visit the United States without visa up to 90 days starting as early as in January next year.

At present, the citizens of Great Britain and 26 other countries are eligible to board airliners or other conveyances destined for the United States without first obtaining visas from U.S. consular officials.

All that these countries' citizens need to do is to present an unexpired passport from one of the 27 countries that participate in the Visa Waiver Program (VWP).

The Visa Waiver Program was implemented in the 1980's to facilitate the movement of travelers between countries and generate trade and, as always, profit.

The bill, which is also giving new job protection to airport screeners and providing billions of dollars to deal with terror attacks, was approved on a 60-38 vote.

In order to be entitled to VWP, visa rejection ratio at U.S. embassies should be less than three percent but the bill calls for easing the ratio up to 10 percent. As of the end of last year, visa rejection ratio for S.Korean nationals at U.S. embassies stood at 3.3 percent.

On top of the lower visa rejection ratio, Korea should be deemed to be a member of U.S. allies in the war against terrorism to be eligible for visa waiver program, according to the provisions of the bill.






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