US turns down Tallinn's bid for visa-free regime

Because of the large number of illegal Estonian workers in the United States, establishment of a visa-free regime between the two countries is not possible at this time, Joseph DeThomas, the US ambassador to Tallin, says in his Internet-posted response to an official request from the Estonian government.

'In view of the statistics on the number of Estonian illegals now in the US, it would be imprudent to drop visa requirements for Estonia and other new members of the European Union and NATO,' DeThomas writes on the home page of the US embassy's website.

The ambassador called US-Estonian relations excellent and noted that visas are legal, not political matters. 'In the issuance of visas, the law does not take into account the attitude of the US government to the state from which the person who is applying comes. Most rejections arise from the inability of the applicant to prove that he does not intend to use the visa for his illegal immigration to the US or to work in the US without legal permission,' the ambassador writes.

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