The AHEPAN - Winter/Spring 2010 - 8
The Road to Policy Success: A Review of Greece’s VWP Designation
by executive director basil n. mossaidis
tremendous moment in U.S.-Greece relations was achieved when the United States designated Greece a Visa Waiver Program (VWP) nation on March 9, 2010. AHEPA Supreme President Nicholas A. Karacostas immediately hailed this announcement as one that will strengthen the long-standing strategic partnership between the two NATO allies. Greece’s VWP designation means trade and commerce between the countries will flourish and tourism to the United States will increase. The strict security standards Greece had to meet, including passenger information sharing and screening, will help to protect our citizens. Finally, Greece’s inclusion in the VWP is a tremendous source of pride for the Greek American community, making it easier for relatives to visit, especially at a moment’s notice. VWP travellers are required to have a valid The Ahepan authorization through the Electronic System for
Travel Authorization (ESTA) prior to travel, are screened at the port of entry into the United States, and are enrolled in the Department of Homeland Security’s US-VISIT program. AHEPA championed Greece’s designation to become a visa waiver nation. Beginning in April 2006, during AHEPA’s annual excursion to Greece, AHEPA Supreme President Gus J. James, II learned and identified that Greece’s candidacy to become a VWP nation was ripe for resolution following meetings at the American Embassy in Athens and with Greek government officials. After all, at the time Greece was the only one of the original 15 European Union nations not to be a VWP member and Greece’s passport biometrics were state-of-the-art, surpassing even the biometrics of passports of the original 27 VWP countries. Moreover, Greece’s visa refusal rate of 1.6 percent was far below the Spring 2007 maximum allowable rate by law.