The US Embassy in Zagreb said on Tuesday that it was simplifying the application process for nonimmigrant visas by expanding the Interview Waiver Program so that eligible applicants can apply for a visa without coming to the embassy for a personal interview with the consul.
The expanded Interview Waiver Program applies to individuals younger than 14 or over 79 years of age for all visa categories, and individuals renewing the following visas which are still valid or have expired within the last 12-48 months: Business/Tourism, Transit, Media, Students and their dependants.
"Those applicants who are not eligible for the program, meanwhile, will benefit from decreased wait times during their appointments," the embassy said in a press release.
"Croatia is a valued ally and partner of the United States, and travel between our two nations provides important economic and cultural benefits to both countries. The majority of visa applications submitted by Croatians are approved, and the U.S. Embassy will continue to encourage tourism and business travel between our countries."
The Croatian Foreign Ministry welcomed the decision, saying it came following a decrease in the number of rejected visa applications for Croatian citizens last year. "With this, Croatia is coming closer to being included in the Visa Waiver Program," the ministry said.
"Croatia and the US are allies and partners. The simplification of travel conditions for Croatian citizens will contribute to the further strengthening of Croatian-American cooperation. For the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs, the inclusion of Croatia in the Visa Waiver Program is one of the political priorities in Croatian-American relations," the ministry said.
The remaining condition which Croatia must meet for visa revocation is to reduce the number of rejected Business/Tourism (B1/B2) applications to below three percent (5.29% in 2015).
The ministry said it "will continue to actively work on meeting the remaining criteria with a view to having visas revoked as soon as possible and further promoting the interests of Croatian citizens in the US."