Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano announced the designation of Greece as a member of the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), strengthening passenger information sharing and ensuring strict security standards while streamlining travel for Greek citizens visiting the United States. Greece's VWP designation represents a major step forward in the continued and long-standing economic and security partnership between the United States and Greece, reflecting more than two years of coordination between the two countries on Greece's entry into VWP.
The National Business Travel Association (NBTA) applauded the announcement. NBTA Executive Director and COO Michael W. McCormick said, "Corporations in both Greece and the United States can rejoice in Greece's acceptance into the U.S. Visa Waiver Program. Visa-free travel is imperative to facilitate effective international travel, enabling the free flow of commerce and economic growth."
In accordance with the VWP designation process, DHS determined that Greece complies with key security and information-sharing requirements such as enhanced law enforcement and security-related data sharing with the United States; timely reporting of lost and stolen passports; and the maintenance of high counterterrorism, law enforcement, border control, aviation and document security standards. In turn, Greek citizens will be permitted to travel to the United States for up to 90 days without obtaining a visa.
With this announcement, Greece joins the 35 nations already participating in VWP, established as a pilot program in 1986 to help eliminate unnecessary barriers to travel and made permanent on Oct. 30, 2000. Like VWP travelers from other countries, Greek citizens will be required to apply for an Electronic System Travel Authorization (ESTA) through the web-based system. Greek citizens will be able to visit the United States without visas in approximately 30 days.
Napolitano will travel to Tokyo later this week to meet with her counterparts from the Asia/Pacific region and officials from the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the third in a series of major international meetings attended by the Secretary to build consensus on strengthening global aviation security and identify specific steps which nations can take individually and collectively to protect all passengers. For more information, visit www.dhs.gov or www.esta.cbp.dhs.gov.