US eases visa requirements for Myanmar citizens

Myanmar citizens can now apply for a combined B-1/B-2 visa, which allows travel to the US for both business and/or tourism purposes, the US Embassy in Myanmar announced Monday. The single-entry visa is valid for three months and there is no issuance fee.

“Building on the growing travel between our two countries, the US Embassy is now making it easier for visitors from Myanmar to go to the US,” US Ambassador Scot Marciel said in a statement.

Travel between the US and Myanmar has been on the rise in recent years. In 2018, the US Embassy issued almost 14,000 visas to Myanmar citizens, representing a 40 percent increase from 2015. In the 2017-18 school year, over 1,500 Myanmar students went to the US to pursue their education, a 16pc increase from the previous year.

The number of US travelers to Myanmar has also increased in the last year. A total of 35,000 US citizens visited Myanmar in the first half of 2019, a 3pc increase from the first half of 2018.

The statement, more visitors travel to Myanmar from the United States than from any other country outside Asia.

The US Embassy works with the Myanmar government to facilitate travel between the two countries. The new combined visa encourages closer ties between Myanmar and the US, it said.

Last month, the US announced sanctions on Tatmadaw Commander-in-Chief Min Aung Hlaing, Deputy Commander-in-Chief Soe Win, Brigadier General Than Oo and Brigadier General Aung Aung, due to their roles in the violence against Muslim refugees in Rakhine in 2017. Their families were also sanctioned.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement that the move makes the US the first government to publicly take action with respect to the most senior leadership of the Tatmadaw.

Source: Myanmar Times

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