Chicago, IL – Today, U.S. Representative Mike Quigley (IL-05), who serves as a member of the Congressional Caucus on Poland, introduced legislation to include Poland in the U.S. Visa Waiver Program (VWP).
“Poland remains one of our most trusted NATO allies and the longstanding friendship shared by our two countries can only strengthen through the continued enhancement of our diplomatic and economic ties. This straightforward bill to allow Poland to participate in the Visa Waiver Program does just that by bolstering intelligence sharing efforts and generating hundreds of millions in additional revenue for our tourism industry as we welcome more Polish travelers to our shores,” said. “Poland’s exclusion from this program has been stalled for far too long. I am pleased by the steps that Poland has taken to improve its security capabilities, as well as upgrade its vetting systems. Poland has shown a clear commitment to our strategic partnership through its security reforms and it’s now time that we grant Poland the same privileges as 30 of its European neighbors.”
Poland is a member of both the EU and NATO but remains one of the few major democratic allies excluded from the VWP. The VWP enables pre-screened, pre-approved travelers from 38 participating countries to travel to the United States, after undergoing a rigorous Department of Homeland Security approval, to visit the U.S. for up to 90 days without obtaining a non-immigrant visitor visa. The program was established to eliminate unnecessary barriers to travel, stimulate the tourism industry, and permit the Department of State to focus consular resources in other, high risk areas.
Illinois’ 5th Congressional District is home to more than 100,000 citizens of Polish ancestry. More than 1 million Poles call Chicago home, making it the highest concentration of Poles of any city outside of Warsaw. According to the U.S. Travel Association, Poland’s addition to the VWP could generate $720 million in economic output annually within three years, supporting 4,200 jobs.
For the past five Congresses, Quigley has led efforts to expand the Visa Waiver Program to include Poland and has worked tirelessly to promote Polish-American relations on all fronts.