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Israel joins the United States ESTA Visa Waiver program
2 min read
Updated on May 14, 2024

Good news for Israeli citizens planning a trip to the United States! The U.S. government has officially announced its decision to waive visa requirements for Israel.

Starting from November 30, 2023, individuals holding Israeli passports will be eligible to travel to the United States without needing a traditional visa, as long as they possess a valid ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization) Visa Waiver.

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Israelis now eligible for ESTA Visa Waiver

The Visa Waiver Program aims to promote tourism and strengthen diplomatic bonds between participating nations and the United States.

Under this new arrangement, Israeli travelers will no longer have to undergo the visa application process for short visits to the United States. This development unlocks exciting travel opportunities for Israelis, eliminating the often lengthy and intricate visa application process.

To enjoy visa-free travel perks, you only need an ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization). With an ESTA in hand, Israeli travelers can relish up to 90 days of visa-free stays in the United States, whether they're here for leisure or business.

As long as they meet the visa requirements for Israelis, the whole process can be completed online in just a few minutes.

Strengthening bilateral agreements between Israel and the U.S.

For quite some time now, both countries have been in discussions aimed at making travel easier for their citizens. This step marks a significant achievement in their efforts to enhance their diplomatic and economic ties.

In a briefing to Israeli journalists, U.S. Embassy Chargé d’Affaires Stephanie Hallett offered a “mazal tov” to Israel on becoming the 41st country to enter the Visa Waiver Program, calling it “yet another reflection of the strength of our bilateral security, economic, and cultural relationship.”

Israeli travel restrictions also eased for Americans

In response to the decision, Israel has made similar adjustments to its visa policy for all U.S. citizens.

This means that Israeli authorities must extend visa-free entry to Palestinian Americans, whether arriving from the United States or the West Bank. These travelers will now be able to arrive at Ben Gurion Airport and cross the border without an Israeli visa.

Calls for equal treatment for Palestinians

While this move has garnered praise from many quarters, it's also sparked calls for equal treatment of Palestinians. Advocates emphasize the importance of ensuring that Palestinians, particularly those in areas like the West Bank, are not subject to discriminatory travel practices.

The Palestinian Foreign Ministry made the following statement:

“At a time when the American administration has repeatedly said that its goal is to provide the same opportunities for freedom, equality, prosperity, and security for both Palestinians and Israelis, we expect this administration to work to implement what it says.”

As discussions continue, there is a shared hope that similar visa considerations will eventually be extended to Palestinian travelers.

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