US president signs bill which could allow Czechs to travel visa-free to US


The Czech Foreign Ministry on Friday welcomed the signing of a US security bill by President George W Bush which could make it easier for Czechs to travel visa-free to the US. But the ministry also expressed reservations, saying expectations had not been met. The legislation has retained targets which could prove difficult to meet. Under the bill, countries hoping to satisfy US visa-waiver requirements must have visa refusal rates no higher than 3 - or in exceptional cases - no higher than 10 percent. In recent years, Czechs have had a rate of around 9 percent of their visa applications rejected annually. Foreign ministry spokeswoman Zuzana Opletalova made clear on Friday that the refusal rate criteria was one reason why the Czech Republic, along with other countries such as Poland and Slovakia, would continue seeking further changes.