US visa waiver programme for Malaysians still on the table

KUALA LUMPUR: The US Visa Waiver Programme for Malaysians passport holders is still being discussed with the United States administration, said United States Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Southeast Asia in the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs Patrick Murphy.

“Malaysia is working on meeting some requirements (set by the US Department of State) and it could be discussed at some point in the future,” he said in a statement in response to a question from Bernama on the status of the programme,  which has been discussed for two years now.

The issue is now causing some concern among Malaysian nationals visiting the US in view of the travel ban by the new administration under  President Donald Trump amid fears that such a ban could also include other countries.

Malaysia had expressed its desire to participate in the US Visa Waiver Programme during talks between Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and the then US President Barack Obama when he visited Malaysia in April 2014.

The programme will enable Malaysians to enter and stay in the United States without a visa for a maximum of 90 days for tourism and business.

On Jan 27 this year, Malaysia expressed confidence that the new United States administration of President Donald Trump will continue with the US Visa Waiver Programme for Malaysia.

Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said Malaysia had fulfilled all except one of the stipulated conditions.

The yet unfulfilled condition, set by the US Department of State, involved maintaining the percentage of rejected visa applications at below three per cent, said Ahmad Zahid, who is also Home Minister.

Right now, the rate of rejection was 3.7 per cent, and Malaysia was confident of fulfilling the three per cent condition by September 2018, he said.  – Bernama

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