TO CHICAGO AND BACK WITHOUT A VISA AFTER 2009
Bulgarians who want to touch the American dream will be probably able to do that without applying for an entry visa for the USA after the year 2009, Foreign Minister Solomon Passy announced on Monday (April 18). On the first working day of the week he discussed visa issues between Bulgaria and the USA with Washington's Ambassador to Bulgaria, H.E. James Pardew. They agreed to set up an expert panel on the consular matters. Its main aim will be to prepare the documents for the transition to a visa-free regime in the travels between the two countries. They will also include the criteria under which the American Government will list Bulgaria among the countries whose citizens do not need a special permission to enter the USA. The initiative for drafting such a road map came from the American President George Bush and was officially made public for the first time in Bratislava on February 24. H.E. James Pardew announced to media representatives that the US Mission in Sofia interviews about 30,000 Bulgarian citizens, applying for non-immigrant visas each year. More than 1,100 of them are students who go on summer brigades in the USA, which have become very popular in our country. In 2004 the US Embassy introduced registration of visa applicants in INTERNET. Since the Mission moved to the new Embassy premises in the Lozenets housing quarter, the number of Bulgarians who have expressed desire to travel to the USA has picked up by 33%, H.E. James Pardew specified. As of April 15, 2005, a messenger of the US Embassy delivers the visas to approved applicants.