The Biden Administration on Wednesday added Israeli citizens to a select group of foreign travelers who can enter the U.S. visa-free.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas jointly announced that Israeli travelers were being accepted into the Visa Waiver Program.
Mayorkas said the move “represents over a decade of work and coordination between the United States and Israel, will enhance our two nations’ collaboration on counterterrorism, law enforcement, and our other common priorities” and will “make both of our nations more secure.”
Blinken added that adding Israel to the visa waiver list “will enhance freedom of movement for U.S. citizens, including those living in the Palestinian Territories or traveling to and from them.”
The federal government currently allows the citizens of roughly 40 mostly European and Asian countries to travel to the U.S. and stay for up to three months without a visa.
The move is considered a win for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who, along with his far-right ultra-nationalist coalition government, has received a frosty reception from the Biden Administration.
Israel entered the Visa Waiver Program just days ahead of deadline, as the U.S. government’s fiscal budget year ends at midnight Saturday. Had it not been accepted for admittance, the Israeli government would have had to qualify for eligibility in the next fiscal year.