Speaking during a trip to the US East Coast, the Polish head of state said he hoped his country would soon be included in the US visa-free travel program, in part due to an improving economy at home.
"We expect that Poland … will be covered by the US Visa Waiver Program, that we will become part of this program, which I hope will happen soon,” Duda said at a meeting with Polish Americans in New Britain, Connecticut.
He added that economic conditions in Poland were fast improving, with a growing number of well-paying jobs, that “people are today living more prosperous lives,” and that “it is no longer necessary” to leave the country for economic reasons to “build one’s future” overseas.
He also said that Poland was “today becoming a partner for the United States" and that “relations between Poland and the US are very good at all levels: political, economic and military.”
He described the United States as "our greatest ally," Poland’s PAP news agency reported.
The Polish head of state is in the United States on a five-day visit during which he is scheduled to meet with President Donald Trump during bilateral talks on the sidelines of a United Nations gathering in New York.
Duda and Trump are expected to sign a military agreement on locations for more American troops in Poland when they meet in New York on Monday.
The two leaders are also likely to discuss visas, according to Krzysztof Szczerski, chief of staff to the Polish president.
Szczerski told reporters ahead of the meeting that in recent months “all agreements that allow entry into the Visa Waiver Program” have been signed, which he said marked "the most important step” on the road to America lifting visas for Poles.
All that remains is “the issue of the refusal rate,” he said.
He added that the two presidents were likely to “discuss the road map on how to proceed once the refusal rate is adequate.”
The threshold for a country to enter the US Visa Waiver Program is a 3-percent refusal rate.
The refusal rate for Polish nationals for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2018 was 3.99 percent, down from 5.92 percent a year earlier, according to the US embassy.
US Vice President Mike Pence said this month in Warsaw that he was glad Poland was nearly ready for the Visa Waiver Program.
“I am pleased to see that Poland is nearing eligibility for the Visa Waiver Program,” Pence said during talks with Poland's Duda in Warsaw in early September.
The US ambassador to Poland, Georgette Mosbacher, has vowed to help lift visas for Poles travelling to America by the end of 2020.
Source: PAP, pl.usembassy.gov