US visa-waiver boosts applications for e-passports

Staff writer, with CNA

Tue, Oct 30, 2012 - Page 4

The number of Taiwanese nationals applying for electronic passports has grown by 25 percent this month from a year earlier, boosted by Taiwan’s inclusion in the US Visa Waiver Program, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs Official said on Sunday.

Bureau of Consular Affairs Director-General Thomas Chen (陳經銓) said the bureau issued 96,047 e-passports between Oct. 1 and last Wednesday, a 25.48 percent increase from the same period last year.

According to the bureau, the e-passports are machine-readable and feature an International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)-compliant chip. This is required to travel to the US under the visa-waiver program.

Approximately 5 million ICAO-compliant passports have been issued by the ministry since e-passports were introduced in Taiwan in 2008, accounting for 46.09 percent of all Taiwanese passports in use.

Under the program eligible passport holders will be granted visa-free stays of up to 90 days in the US.

Meanwhile, the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Seattle said Taiwanese nationals on a Seattle-bound EVA Airways flight on Friday will be greeted by a welcome banner at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

Representatives of Taiwanese expatriate groups, political figures from the state of Washington and airport officials are set to welcome the flight’s passengers to celebrate the new visa-free policy.