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Schumer legislation would add Poland to Visa Waiver Program

Sen. Charles E. Schumer said Monday that he's seeking a legislative solution to a problem that has long bedeviled would-be visitors to the United States from Poland: a requirement that they get a visa before entry.

Poland is the only country in the 25-nation eurozone that does not already qualify for the U.S. Visa Waiver Program, and Polish diplomats for years have been pressing their American counterparts to allow their nation to qualify.

Now, though, Schumer hopes to make that change happen through his Jobs Originated through Launching Travel (JOLT) Act, which streamlines the federal process for adding countries to the Visa Waiver Program. That legislation would also order the U.S. comptroller general to review federal methods for tracking aliens and for detecting those who overstay their visas.

Schumer said those revisions would likely lead to Poland's admission to the Visa Waiver Program.

"Poland is one of our closest and best allies and the Polish-American community in America is vast and vibrant," said Schumer, D-N.Y. "Finally permitting Poland to enter the Visa Waiver Program is not only the right thing to do; it will also boost our economy."

Schumer's move drew praise from the Buffalo-area Polish-American community.

"Less paperwork and fair treatment for Polish visitors will lead to more tourists coming to our great Western New York Polish-American community and partaking in all our Polish-American events," said Richard Solecki, president of the Polish-American Congress WNY Division.

Meanwhile, Assemblyman Dennis Gabryszak, D-Cheektowaga, said: "Many of my constituents still have family in Poland. This is great news for those who may have wanted to visit, but couldn't in the past because of the old policy."

email: jzremski@buffnews.com