President Bush has signed legislation allowing citizens of 12 more countries, including Brazil, to visit the United States without first obtaining a visa. The legislation adds Argentina, Brazil, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Greece, Israel, Malta, Slovakia, South Korea, Taiwan and Uruguay to the existing list of 27 countries in the Visa Waiver Program.
Citizens of those countries can visit the United States for up to 90 days without having to get a visa, which can cost $100 and involve paperwork and visits to a U.S. consulate for an in-person interview.
The addition of the new countries makes a total of 39 now in the Visa Waiver Program. The expansion, which the president signed Friday, August 3, was included in Homeland Security legislation called Improving America's Security by Implementing Unfinished Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Act of 2007.
The Travel Industry Association, whose Discover America Partnership has worked to expand visa waiver, says adding the new countries will help to reverse a nearly 20% decline in overseas travel to the United States since 9/11.
The new visa policy information was given in Macau by Nevada's Lt. Gov. Brian K. Krolicki, chair of the Nevada Commission on Tourism. Krolicki and commission Director Tim Maland were in Macau as part of a tourism-building mission they are leading in China for a delegation of Nevada hotel, convention, travel and airline industry officials until Aug. 11.