KUALA LUMPUR, Mar 20 (Sin Chew Daily) -- The United States Ambassador to Malaysia Kamala Shirin Lakhdhir said the approval rate of US visa applications for Malaysian citizens was very high, with up to 99% of student visa applications approved.
During an interview with Sin Chew Daily, Lakhdhir said Malaysia had not been affected by the executive order of President Donald Trump despite the fact Malaysia is a Muslim country.
As for the inclusion of Malaysia in the US Visa Waiver Program (VWP), she said she couldn't provide a timetable at this moment although she commended the Malaysian government for its effort in reducing the visa rejection rate.
The visa applications of fewer than 4% of Malaysian citizens are rejected, meaning more than 96% of visa applicants have been given the green light to travel to the Untied States.
There are currently 38 countries and territories joining the VWP. Singapore and Brunei are the only two Asean countries enjoying visa waiver facility for traveling to the United States for vacation or business for not more than 90 days.
More Malaysians studying in US
Lakhdhir said many Malaysians had misunderstood President Trump's executive order meant to preserve the country's border security.
On the US engagement in Asia Pacific, Lakhdhir said there were no signs Washington would distance itself from the region, and that the good relationship between Asean countries and the United States would continue to grow.
Despite the devaluation of ringgit, the number of Malaysian students pursuing their studies in the Untied States surged 8.3% to a 15-year high of 7,834 last year.
According to the statistics of the Institute of International Education, Malaysia has become the 22nd largest source of international students in the Untied States, third in Asean after Vietnam (sixth) and Indonesia (19th).