Taiwan is set to negotiate with the US on three agreements regarding border security issues as part of the government’s efforts to qualify the nation as one to which the US government would consider granting visa-waiver status, officials said yesterday.
Taiwan’s representative to the US Jason Yuan (袁健生) said the US Department of State recently suggested that the nation sign three agreements on sharing lost and stolen passport information, sharing information on terrorists and cooperation in cracking down on major crimes.
“We hope to meet the requirements [for the US’ visa-waiver program (VWP)] by next year, so that [Taiwan] can be identified as a candidate to be admitted to the program during the year,” Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) Deputy Minister Shen Lyu-shun (沈呂巡) said while fielding questions from lawmakers at the legislature’s Foreign and National Defense Committee.
The nation’s work lobbying Washington for inclusion in the US’ VWP was a main issue of discussion during the session.
Yuan told lawmakers that on his second day after taking office on Aug. 4, 2008, he visited the US Department of Homeland Security and was told that Taiwan had never been identified as a potential candidate for the US’ VWP.
To meet the requirements to be included in the VWP, the nation managed to cut its US visa refusal rate for this year to 2.2 percent, lower than the minimum requirement of 3 percent, a great improvement when compared with the 4.4 percent refusal rate last year.
Meanwhile, the government will launch a one-year trial program on March 1 to get more Taiwanese to apply for their passports in person rather than through a travel agency to mitigate US concerns over what it deems as a lax passport issuance procedure, a loophole that can be used by human trafficking rings to make fake passport applications.