Malaysia has met all conditions to be part of the United States’ visa waiver programme except one.
The reason why Malaysia fails to get on the programme is due to Malaysians’ inability to fill up visa application forms properly.
“Malaysians just seem to be unable to fill the forms correctly. For the country to qualify for the programme, there must be no more than 3% rejection of applications for visa.
“But the failure rate is still hovering between 3.4% and 3.7% and majority of the rejection is because the forms were not filled up correctly,” Malaysian Ambassador to the US Tan Sri Zulhasnan Rafique said.
Currently, Malaysia has fulfilled six out of the seven statutory requirements, which are:
- No visa requirement imposed on US citizens travelling to Malaysia;
- Usage of e-passport as per International Civil Aviation Organisation specifications;
- Deportation of Malaysians who overstay in the US;
- Signing of the Homeland Security Presidential Directive No. 6 Arrangement;
- Signing the Preventing and Combating Serious Crime Agreement; and
- Exchange of information on Stolen and Lost Travel Documents.
The US visa waiver programme would allow Malaysians to travel to the US for tourism, business or transit for up to 90 days without a visa.
The main reason causing Malaysia’s failure to fulfil all the requirements for the programme was confirmed by the US Ambassador Kamala Shirin Lakhdir.
Malaysia is just short of the approval rate required to qualify for the programme as it had a 96.7% approval rate for US business (B1) and tourist (B2) visas.
Although, Zulhasnan acknowledged that the forms were “a bit intimidating” and could be quite difficult to fill.
“I hope that Malaysia will qualify for the programme but Malaysians applying for US visas must play their part and be very careful.”
Application of the US visas can only be done digitally, and the process involves creating a personal profile, paying for the visa application, setting an appointment for the interview.
To apply, applicants need to visit http://www.ustraveldocs.com/my/, and they are advised to read every sentence of the application guide and to contact the helpline for further enquiries before submitting the form.