JOHNSON BILL BRINGS FAIRNESS
FOR POLISH VISITORS

Congresswoman Meets With President Kwasniewski

Washington, D.C. -Congresswoman Nancy Johnson reintroduced bipartisan legislation on February 8, 2005, that makes travel to the United States fairer for Polish visitors.

Johnson's legislation would allow Polish citizens to travel to the United States with a valid passport, rescinding the requirement that Polish visitors also obtain a travel visa.

Johnson will also meet with Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski on Wednesday in Washington, where he will express strong support for the legislation. President Kwasniewski joins former Polish President Lech Walesa in support of Johnson's bill.

"As a matter of fairness, Polish citizens should be able to travel to the United States under the same rules as citizens of most other European countries," Johnson said. "Generations of Polish-Americans have helped build this country. Their friends and family should be able to visit the United States with just a passport like French and German citizens can."

"I'm pleased President Kwasniewski is supporting my legislation and I look forward to working with him to achieve fairness for Polish-Americans and Polish citizens," Johnson added.

Under the Visa Waiver Program, the U.S. government allows citizens of27 countries to visit the United States for up to 90 days without having to obtain a travel visa. While Poland is not a member of the program, countries that are include Slovenia, Brunei, France, Germany, Australia, Singapore, and Japan.

By adding Poland to the Visa Waiver Program, Johnson's legislation will allow Polish citizens to travel to the United States with only a passport. Poland unilaterally repealed its visa requirement for American visitors in 1991.

Johnson reintroduced her legislation today with bipartisan support. U.S. Reps. Daniel Lipinski (D-IL), John Shimkus (R-IL), Anthony Weiner (D-NY), and Joseph Crowley (D-NY) are all original cosponsors. Johnson first introduced this legislation last year.

SANTORUM RE-INTRODUCES
POLISH VISA WAIVER ACT

Washington, D.C.--Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA), Chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, today announced the re-introduction of the Polish Visa Waiver Act in the 109th Congress.

The Polish Visa Waiver Act designates Poland as a program country under the visa waiver program established under Section 217 of the Immigration and Nationality Act. Senator Santorum introduced similar legislation during the 108th Congress.

"There are nearly nine million Americans of Polish ancestry currently living in the United States. If passed, this legislation will make it easier for friends and families of Polish Americans to travel to the United States, and I am hopeful that this time we can gain solid bi-partisan support in the Senate to strengthen ties with Poland as a staunch twenty-first century ally to the United States," said Senator Santorum. "I was disappointed that during the 108th Congress, despite overwhelming bipartisan support, we could not unanimously pass this legislation because of Democratic obstruction from within the Senate."

The Secretary of Homeland Security and the Secretary of State administers the visa waiver program, which allows citizens from 27 countries, including France and Germany, to visit the United States as tourists without visas. There are nearly 825,000 Americans of Polish ancestry currently living in Pennsylvania. This program would allow the families of Polish Americans to travel to the United States to attend weddings, funerals, and other special occasions without the delay of waiting for a visa.

Senator Santorum (left) met with Adam Rotfeld (center), Polish Minister of Foreign Affairs and Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) to discuss the Polish Visa Waiver Act.

Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) is an original cosponsor of this legislation.

 

CONGRESSWOMAN SHEILA JACKSON LEE
INTRODUCES LEGISLATION GRANTING
CONDITIONAL VISA WAIVER
STATUS TO POLISH NATIONALS

Washington, D.C.--Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, Ranking Member on the Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security and Claims met with Polish President Kwasniewski and has introduced legislation granting conditional Visa Waiver Status to Polish Nationals. "I believe that the United States and Poland have a valuable relationship, and it is time that we give the Polish government a chance to show that their nationals deserve to be in the visa waiver program.

The Visa Waiver program allows the citizen of a foreign country to visit the United States without requiring a visa. The Department of Homeland Security and the State Department operate the Visa Waiver Program which allows citizens from 27 countries to visit the United States without a Visa; Poland does not currently have that status.

 

CONGRESSWOMAN HART MEETS WITH POLAND'S PRESIDENT
TO DISCUSS US-POLISH RELATIONS

Washington, D.C.--Congresswoman Melissa Hart and several other House colleagues met this morning with Polish President, Aleksander Kwasniewski to discuss a broad range of bilateral, regional and international issues. During the meeting, Hart highlighted to Kwasniewski the important contributions that Polish Americans have made to Western Pennsylvania.

Hart said, "I was proud to share with President Kwasniewski the many ways that Polish Americans have enriched our communities in Western Pennsylvania. He was interested to learn of his nation's contributions to the diversity of our area and how Western Pennsylvanians of Polish descent have proudly maintained their identity.

During the course of the meeting other issues of U.S.-Polish cooperation were discussed, including:

  • Poland's military cooperation in Iraq and Afghanistan
  • Poland's role in the promotion of democracy in the recent Ukrainian elections
  • Poland's commitment to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process
  • The possibility of Poland participating in the Visa Waiver Program

Hart added, "Poland has stood as a steadfast ally in helping to promote democracy globally. Hart concluded, "We made sure to communicate our appreciation to President Kwasniewski to convey to the Polish people."

 
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