NEWS

Greece urged to fix loopholes for visa-free travel to the US

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Greece has until the end of the month to meet new strict criteria for the visa-free travel of its citizens to the US as part of the Visa Waiver program of the American Department of State.

However, diplomatic sources told Kathimerini the deadline could be extended as US authorities are “very positive and understanding.”

The US Department of Homeland Security had initially given France, Belgium, Germany, Italy and Greece until February 1 to change “crucial loopholes” in their systems or risk being locked out of the program.

As part of the new criteria, Athens must improve the security levels of Greek ID cards but it still needs some time, and money, to introduce the technology required to issue safer cards.

Moreover, it must introduce special passport validation mechanisms at entry points to Greece to document and register all the migrants and refugees entering the country.

In addition, countries participating in the visa exemption program are required by this coming fall, to cross check criminal records of non-citizen residents using Interpol databases.

Under the program, the citizens of 38 countries, including almost all EU member states, are allowed to travel to the US for tourism or business without a visa.