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Issue Background

Visa Waiver

"Making it easier for Poles to visit the United States makes sense in every respect.... It's good for trade, it's good for investment, it's good for promoting the people-to-people ties that help to bind our countries together."

-John Kerry, U.S. Secretary of State (Nov. 2013)

What is the Visa Waiver issue?

The citizens of a country granted a visa waiver by the United States are permitted a 90 day visit to the United States without applying for a visa at an American Consulate. This eliminates a lot of bureaucratic red tape and long hours in line. It also saves money as an applicant has to pay a fee for each application for a visa. Most importantly, a visa waiver signals to those who wish to visit friends or relatives or sightsee that they are citizens of a country that is respected and that they are considered trusted and reliable friends.

Why should Poland be included in the Visa Waiver Program?

First and foremost, it is a matter of fairness and equality. Poland which has been a longtime supporter and friend of the United States should be included in the program. Poland has fought alongside the United States in the Middle East since the beginning of the Iraq war. Sixty-six Polish soldiers to date have given their lives in the struggle in Iraq and Afghanistan alongside their American comrades.

Including Poland which is the 6th most populous nation in the European Union would be a boom to the American economy. It would bring thousands of new visitors to the U.S. and add thousands of new jobs and billions of dollars to our economy. It would also stimulate new Polish-U.S. trade, economic cooperation and investments. Poland’s economy is the most robust in Europe. It is the only nation which was not hurt by the recent recession thanks to its careful economic policies.

Poland and its citizens are not a serious security concern for the U.S. Only 2.8% of Polish visitors overstay their visas which is below the 3% overstay threshold. Given their home prosperity and their ability to work and study within the European Union, Poles no longer seek to migrate to the U.S. Last year about 1,600 new Polish immigrants came to the U.S. According to the U.S. State department Poland has implemented and adopted all security measures and information-sharing protocols asked of it by the United States.

There are 10 million Polish Americans. They and their ancestors have contributed much to the development and prosperity of the United States as well as to its freedom and independence beginning with the contributions of Kosciuszko and Pulaski who were present at the creation of the American Republic. To open the doors to free exchange of visitors to Poland is to recognize our shared values over more than two centuries and to strengthen the personal ties that support them today.     

JOLT act

The Jobs Originating through Launching Travel Act of 2015 (HR 1401) or JOLT for short, is a strong vehicle for getting Poland into the Visa Waiver Program while also helping the U.S. economy by increasing tourism. Below you will find an example of a letter to help people explain to their Congressional representative the importance of this bill to Polish Americans and Americans in general. This sample letter is going to be located in the body of your message by default, you may erase it completely and use your own words or  remove portions of the letter if you wish.

Dear Representative ________________:

I am writing to urge you to support and co-sponsor H.R. 1401, the Jobs Originated through Launching Travel (JOLT) Act of 2015.  This important legislation, which enjoys broad support in the private sector and bipartisan support in Congress, would stimulate international tourism to the United States by expanding the Visa Waiver Program (VWP).

The Visa Waiver Program enables nationals from 38 participating countries to travel to the United States for tourism or business stays of up to 90 days without obtaining a visa. Its creation was designed to eliminate unnecessary barriers to travel, stimulate the tourism industry, and permit the Department of State to focus consular resources in higher risk areas.  Regrettably, today Poland remains the only European Union member of the Schengen Zone (created to promote visa free travel across the EU), that is not a Member of the VWP.

Now is the time to act! Help us include Poland – one of America’s strongest allies – in the VWP. 

Travel to the United States is America’s top services export. With Poland being a shining example of economic and democratic success, and with 12 million Polish Americans calling the United States home, the historic links between our two great countries are only suffering by being shackled with limitations on people-to-people contacts that are guaranteed through programs like the VWP.

Including Poland in the VWP not only strengthens our alliance, but supports nearly 61,000 additional American jobs simply by allowing Polish visitors to travel visa-free to the U.S. for up to 90 days. The VWP also bolsters U.S. national security, promotes tourism, and increases commerce. Countries that participate in the program agree to increase information sharing and collaboration in counter-terrorism and border control. 

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, U.S. Travel Association, the American Hotel and Lodging Association, and the National Retail Federation all support H.R. 1401.  I urge you to join Representatives Joe Heck (R-NV) and Mike Quigley (D-IL) by becoming a co-sponsor of this important and timely legislation that finally welcomes Poland into this program and paves the way for even greater cooperation between our two great nations. 

Thank you for your prompt attention to this important matter. I look forward to your response.

Sincerely,

 

To check if your representative has co-sponsored the bill you can go to our bill monitoring page by clicking here or by clicking on the "current bill for visa waiver" subsection on the right side of this page.