Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked said on Thursday that Israel could complete the process of joining the U.S. waiver program by 2023.
Shaked explained that the process to grant a visa exemption for Israeli travelers to the U.S. will take at least a year and will not be finished before 2023.
He said he learned about this development after his meeting with United States Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas on the matter.
The Israeli official revealed that in their meeting they decided to establish governmental teams to tackle the remaining challenges.
Shaked said the American team will visit Israel in January, and Shaked and Mayorkas will follow up once a month.
The U.S. Homeland Security earlier said it is seriously thinking of including Israel for its visa waiver program that allows citizens to come to America without a visa for a stay of up to 90 days.
Mayorkas revealed there are four countries on the pipeline that are candidates for the visa waiver program and one of them is Israel.
We have four candidates in the pipeline: Israel, Cyprus, Bulgaria, and Romania,” Mayorkas said
“We’re very, very focused on the program,” he added, saying it provides significant economic and security benefits,” Mayorkas added.
Israel became a strong candidate for the program as part of the bilateral cooperation between the US and Israel forged during the White House meeting of President Joe Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett last August.
Sources said to join the program, a country must meet requirements related to counterterrorism, law enforcement, immigration enforcement, document security, and border management.
At the moment there are already 40 countries enrolled in the program.