160 dollars, days of waiting and an a photo, a filled out on-line form, few hour and a half long visit to the US consulate in Warsaw or Krakow. This is the shape of the visa application procedure for the United States. Statistically, one can say that almost everybody goes through this process successfully. According to the latest data, 94 percent of Poles applying for a visa were granted one. 5.9 percent were rejected. Unfortunately, the whole fight is for these few per cent. For years, our country leads a debate as to why Poles – such close partners of the United States – need to have a visa, to visit this country. The whole affairs boils down to one simple and clear regulation.
USA, if there are no political counter arguments, removes the visa requirement for these countries, where the number of rejections does not exceed 3 per cent. Since 2004, there has been a significant progress in this matter, as earlier each fourth motion was denied and nowadays it is less than each sixteenth, but still we exceed the standard set by American authorities. The social campaign by PLL LOT and other five non-government and business partners aims at changing this situation. Among those are: Poland Innovative Foundation, The Polish Promotional Program Foundation, Cichociemni (Eng. The Silent Unseen) Foundation, Schuman Thought Institute and MasterCard Company. For the next few months, this coalition will encourage to apply for an American visa and will clarify the rules of acquiring one, so that complicated application will be successful and boosts our statistics. If we find ourselves below the 3 percent bar, we will join the Visa Waiver program and be able to travel to US visa-free. So far, we are one of few outcasts in UE – a country, whose citizens, next to Bulgarians, Romanians, Cypriots and Croatian, need to apply for an US visa. – There are a lot of emotions and myths connected to visas. Our goal is to debunk these myths and encourage Poles to apply for a visa within the next months but to do it thoroughly, as each incorrect application ends in denial. Meanwhile this disrupts the statistics and causes Poles to travel to US with a visa in their passport – says Adrian Kubicki, director of LOT Communications Office and the initiator of the action. PLL LOT intends to include all passengers in their informatory campaign, as well as place appropriate information in the airports. As it turns out, rather a small amount of rejections is connected to formalities.
Americans, as a rule, deny entrance to anyone, who has committed certain offences. Those, who had previously committed visa infringements, such as, remaining in the US for a longer period of time, than was settled by a civil servant upon entry, can lose their hopes of getting a visa. A motion may also be denied if the applicant has any relatives that reside illegally in the US. According to prof. Zbigniew Krysiak, the director of Shuman’s Thought Institute, our visa statistics are lowered by another factor. – Usually, it is errors in forms. Applications given on a wrong form, errors when declaring the purpose of the journey – says Krysiak in a conversation with “Wprost”. He adds that in such cases, applicants are usually granted the visa when re-applying. – For them, it means additional costs, as every next motion is another 160 dollar fee. For Poland, it means worsened statistics. – he emphasizes. It is not hard to make a mistake. The most common touristic visa is a B1/B2 form. But students who would like to connect leisure travel with a possibility of work should fill out another, especially designated, Work&Travelform. In the past year, most rejections concerned motions from Subcarpathia, Lesser Poland and the Eastern Wall. A high percentage of rejections applied to motions from the Polish Diaspora in UK.
Denied applications most often contained formal errors. The Institute of Schuman’s Thought considers creating a guide, as a part of the informatory campaign, which would help avoiding the most common mistakes. Meanwhile, Poland Innovative and The Polish Promotional Program Foundations aim at popularizing visas among Polish entrepreneurs, thus increasing the number of approved applications. – Over the next few months we will join forces in promoting USA visas motions and clarifying the rules of application. As a foundation, which, every year, rewards Polish entrepreneurs in the „Teraz Polska” competition, we are able to address directly that group of businessmen – as Krzysztof Przybył, president of the board for The Polish Promotional Program „Teraz Polska” Foundation, tells us. The Poland Innovative Foundation follows a similar lead but aims at reaching the youngest among entrepreneurs and start-uppers. Both foundations have no doubts that Poland entering the Visa Waiver program would mean a great chance for business to develop and for young businessmen – to gain an unlimited access to newest technologies and research data. MasterCard Company has also involved itself in the campaign, wanting to promote tourist travels to United States. – We will be encouraging to pick USA as a travel destination this year, thus creating more positive visa applications decisions – says Marta Życińska, marketing director of the Polish division in MasterCard.
We have until September to change these disreputable statistics. Then, fiscal year ends in the US and with it come yearly recapitulations. Similar campaigns were previously launched in the Czech Republic and South Korea, where they turned out to be successful. Above all, the number of motions, delivered by applicants with the greatest chance of receiving a positive answer, was raised. Our southern neighbors travel to the US without the need for visas since 2008. Our participation in the visa free movement is supported by the European Committee. This February, another round of talks with Donald Trump’s administration, regarding this matter, is scheduled. In May, there will be a meeting between ministers of justice and internal affairs of EU and US, where the matter will be discussed. g
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