“Visa Waiver for Poland is an economic development matter for Washington State,” said Lacey City Council Andy Ryder at a meeting with Congressman Smith and Polish American delegates, Teresa Indelak Davis and Eva Orlowska, on Tuesday, November 22, 2011. Council Ryder who is also on the board of the Lacey-Minsk Mazowiecki Sister Cities Association says, “Bills S.497 and H.R. 959 are about bringing more tourism from Poland to Lacey, 9th District and Washington State.”
“For the Lacey-Minsk Mazowiecki Sister City Association, the passage of the bills has a direct impact. Every year we bring 10 students and 2 teachers from Poland to spend a month in the North Thurston high schools. Not only will the passage of these bills permit them to forgo the trip to Warsaw for the visa application process, it would also save them $140,” says Paul Perz, Past President of Lacey-Mink Mazowiecki Sister City Association.
“We want Polish students to come to the United States to spend their vacation dollars instead of the European Union where they can travel without visas,” says Council Ryder.
Three active sister cities associations in Seattle, Lacey and Camas have ongoing student exchange programs. Seattle-Gdynia Sister Cities Association, which just celebrated its 20th anniversary, has won multiple awards for exporting the popular Washington Business Week to Poland, now offered in three Polish cities. “This all translates into jobs in Washington State,” says Council Ryder.
“Poland is a productive member of European Union and NATO and yet still remains excluded from the Visa Waiver Program. Polish Citizens who want to visit US must go through a cumbersome application process, often being denied on the first try. We hope that Poland will finally join the ranks of Visa Waiver Program and its citizens can travel here more easily,” says Teresa Indelak Davis, Vice President of the Polish American Chamber of Commerce Pacific Northwest. “Piast Institute, a United States Census Bureau Census Information Center, reports over 129,000 Washington State residents of Polish ancestry. There are a lot of family and cultural ties between Poland and our region. This is an issue that matters to our residents,” adds Ms. Davis.
Congressman Smith, who had personally intervened on the visa requests for Polish citizens in his district, has agreed to study the bill and consider co-sponsorship. The bills are gaining momentum with 31 co-sponsors in the House and five co-sponsors in the Senate.
Please, send a letter to your legislators requesting visa waiver for Poland.
Sample letters:http://www.paccpnw.org/visa-waiver-for-poland/More about: Congressman Adam Smith: http://adamsmith.house.gov/District/ Lacey City Council Andy Ryder: http://www.ci.lacey.wa.us/city-government/city-council/city-council-2/meet-the-lacey-city-council/andy-ryder Seattle-Gdynia Sister Cities Association: http://www.seattlegdynia.org/ Lacey-Minsk Mazowiecki Sister Cities Association: http://www.laceyminsk-mazsc.org/ Camas Sister Cities Association http://sistercity.cityofcamas.org/ Poland Business Week Programs: http://www.wbw.org/reader.aspx?pg=Programs_GDYNIA.htm Washington Business Week: http://www.wbw.org/