Stamping Out Crime
For Americans, tourist visas are a nuisance aspect of travel; usually they're needed for travel to countries where you can buy them at the airport. If not, it's irritating to sort out, but that's about it. However, in the rest of the world, Central Europe in particular, visas are a hot-button political issue.
In the Czech Republic, Foreign Affairs Minister Cyril Svoboda has seen enough of Americans, Canadians, and Australians overstaying their 90-day tourist visas. He wants the Czech police to look into the bank and insurance records of foreigners that want short-term visas to compliment the background checks already in place, and to ensure rigorous stamping of passports at the border.
The to-do is not really about Aussies or Canucks wearing our their welcome in the Czech Republic. Instead, it's a pointed barb from the Czechs at the US, Canada and Australia, all of whom require the Czechs to purchase tourist visas and go through an intrusive application process before they travel.
The U.S. Ambassador recently promised that the process would soon be eliminated, but he refused to give a timeline. Given the Bush administration's current disposition towards immigration, that change is unlikely to occur anytime in the near future.
Meanwhile, the Canadians think requiring Americans to use their passport when they cross the border will hurt tourism. Imagine if Americans had to get a visa instead.
[Image via 3rd Coast Chick/Flickr]
· The New National Threat [Prague Post]
· U.S. Will Tighten Passport Rules [WaPo]