U.S. Embassy in Israel Says No Change in Visa Policy

The United States Embassy announced today that there has been no change of policy with respect to the issuance of visas to tourists and other Israelis planning to travel to the U.S. The statement was released in response to rumors that the Consular Section has taken a tougher line on visas because of the presence in the U.S. of some eight million improperly documented foreigners.

Long lines of applicants are queued up outside the visa office each day. Some, mostly youths, camp outside the Embassy gates overnight in order to be the first on line. This is normal at the start of the summer vacation period. Israeli students going to the U.S. are anxious to receive their visas as quickly as possible in order to be able to return to Israel in time for the opening of the new school year at the end of summer. In past years there has been some abuse of visas by Israelis who go to the U.S. as visitors but remain after their visas expire. For that reason, the Consular Section carefully screens all applicants.

The Embassy announcement said that it expects to issue 45,000 visas to Israelis this year, including 2000 immigration visas compared to just over 40,000 last year that included 1774 immigrant visas. The Embassy said that last year it had rejected only 23 percent of the applicants, about 9000 persons. The Consular Section interviews about 500 applicants a day during the summer months compared to about 200 daily the rest of the year. Most people have no difficulty whatsoever in obtaining visas, an Embassy spokesman said.

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