US Visa Waiver Programme for M'sians still on the cards

Bernama

KUALA LUMPUR: The US Visa Waiver Programme for Malaysian passport holders is still being discussed with the United States administration, US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Southeast Asia in the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, Patrick Murphy said yesterday.

"Malaysia is working on meeting some requirements (set by the US Department of State) and it could be discussed at some point in the future," he said in a statement in response to a question from Bernama on the status of the programme, which has been under discussion for two years now.

The outstanding issue is cause for concern among Malaysian nationals visiting the US, in view of the travel ban by the new administration under President Donald Trump, which has raised fears that it could be extended to include other countries.

Malaysia expressed its desire to participate in the US Visa Waiver Programme during talks between Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and the-then US President Barack Obama when he visited Malaysia in April 2014.

The programme would enable Malaysians to enter and stay in the United States without a visa for a maximum of 90 days for tourism and business.

On Jan 27 this year, Malaysia expressed confidence that the Trump administration would consider the US Visa Waiver Programme for Malaysia. Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said Malaysia had fulfilled all except one of the stipulated conditions. The yet-unfulfilled condition, set by the US Department of State, involves maintaining the percentage of rejected visa applications at below three per cent, said Ahmad Zahid, who is also Home Minister.

Right now, the rate of rejection is 3.7 per cent, and Malaysia is confident of fulfilling the three per cent condition by Sept 2018, Zahid said. -- BERNAMA