EU regrets US electronic visa fee
09.08.10 @ 09:29
EU home affairs chief Cecilia Malmstrom said on Friday (6 August) that a US plan to introduce a €10.50 fee for an entry application is regrettable and inconsistent with its goal to increase numbers of transatlantic visitors.
The criticism came after the US Homeland Security Customs and Border Protection department announced an interim rule under which from 8 September all applicants for electronic visas using the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) would have to pay a €7.50 ($10) "travel promotion fee" and a €3 ($4) administrative fee.
ESTA requires travellers arriving by air or sea from countries participating in the US Visa Waiver Program, which allows citizens from certain countries to stay in the US up to 90 days without having to obtain standard visa, to complete an online from in advance of travel.
"I regret very much the fee established by the interim rule," Ms Malmstrom said in a statement, adding that she had "repeatedly raised concerns about the introduction of this fee."
The commissioner also warned the new requirements "are inconsistent with the commitment of the US to facilitate transatlantic mobility and will be an additional onus for European citizens travelling to the US."
The commission said it had carried out an assessment of the interim rule in December 2008 when it was first mooted and had concluded the interim ESTA system was not similar to the EU's own visa application process for its Schengen border-free zone.
Another EU assessment is due to be carried out once the US' final rules are in place. The EU's position is that countries whose citizens can travel to the EU without a visa must grant the same right to EU citizens in return.