AIT holding information drive on US visa-waiver

Staff writer, with CNA

Mon, Oct 22, 2012 - Page 3

The American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) has launched a public information drive to inform Taiwanese about the US Visa-Waiver Program (VWP), in the wake of Taiwan’s recent admittance to the program.

The AIT, which represents US interests in Taiwan in the absence of diplomatic ties, set up an information booth at Sogo Department Store on Zhongxiao East Road in Taipei yesterday to help people learn how to access the program. A similar booth was set up at a night market in Taipei on Saturday.

“We’re here to help people understand the rules and methods of traveling under the program,” said William Yu, a consular officer at the AIT’s Taipei office, at the booth on Zhongxiao East Road.

AIT personnel at the booth also handed out flyers about registering online to travel without a visa, a requirement of the VWP.

With Taiwan’s effective admission to the VWP on Nov. 1, Republic of China (ROC) citizens will be freed from the cumbersome process of obtaining a US visa at a cost of NT$4,800 per application.

However, Taiwanese travelers, like citizens of other countries in the VWP program, will still need to pay a fee of US$14 to apply online for an electronic travel authorization. The authorization will be valid for a two-year period.

Visitors to the AIT information booth yesterday were given the option of applying on the spot for the travel authorization.

“It’s really easy,” a middle-aged Taiwanese woman said after completing the procedure with the help of AIT staff.

Yu said public response to Taiwan’s admission to the VWP has been “very positive.”

Thousands of ROC passport holders have applied for the electronic travel authorization since the US announced Taiwan’s inclusion in the VWP earlier this month, Yu said, adding that the rejection rate is less than 1 percent.