Romanians longing for visa-free travel to the US can rejoice! Prime Minister Marcel Ciolacu has announced a potential 2024 formalization of Romania's entry into the US visa waiver program, even ahead of the previously discussed 2025 deadline. This optimistic outlook comes after productive meetings with US officials like Defense Minister Lloyd Austin and Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
"Based on today's discussions, I believe the formalization will occur next year," Ciolacu declared. "Both Romanian citizens and the American side, including the US diaspora, will contribute to a sustained effort with a 2025 deadline for visa waivers."
To facilitate this progress, Romania will sign two crucial agreements with the US: one on information exchange and another on cooperation in combating serious crimes. Foreign Minister Luminita Odobescu echoed the importance of visa-free travel, stating, "We are optimistic, and by year-end, we aim to sign two additional agreements with the US regarding information exchange and cooperation in serious crimes."
Odobescu also expressed confidence in Romania's achievable goal of joining the visa waiver program by 2025, citing the country's nearing compliance with the 3% visa rejection threshold. This positive outlook aligns with earlier reports from Romania's US ambassador, who noted Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas' acknowledgment of the country's significant progress.
However, challenges remain. Romania's aspirations for Schengen area entry, shared with Bulgaria, face hurdles from Austria's opposition. Austrian Interior Minister Gerhard Karner reiterated his country's stance, emphasizing the need for robust external border protection before Schengen expansion.
Despite this obstacle, Romania's determination to secure visa-free travel to the US and its progress towards Schengen membership paint a promising picture for Romanian travelers. With continued efforts and cooperation, the dream of visa-free travel to both the US and Europe could soon become a reality for Romanians.