PETALING JAYA - The US visa waiver programme (VWP) will be implemented in three stages once the Immigration Department fulfills the requirements under its guidelines.
Home Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said the first stage was applicable to ministers and government officers while the second stage was for businessmen.
"Civilians will be able to enjoy visa-free travel to the United States in the third stage.
"US President Barack Obama projected that this process and its stages could take about one-and-a-half years but we are confident it can be done in less time," he told a press conference after a courtesy call by US Ambassador to Malaysia Joseph Y. Yun here yesterday.
He said Yun had also requested for Malaysia to appoint a coordinator to ensure the process went smoothly.
"We will appoint one in due time," Dr Ahmad Zahid said.
Last week, he announced that visa-free travel to the United States could be possible within 18 months with the Immigration Department preparing to comply with US guidelines.
Dr Ahmad Zahid noted that Obama had said during his visit to Kuala Lumpur in April that his administration was prepared to include Malaysia under the VWP, which would allow citizens of participating countries to travel to the United States without a visa for stays of up to 90 days for leisure or business.
Travellers are still subject to certain requirements, which include obtaining approval through the Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA).
Dr Ahmad Zahid said among the immigration process improvements were the implementation of the Advanced Passengers Screening System (APSS), which he said was expected to be rolled out by the middle of this month.
APSS is one of several new security protocols that were put in place at entry points following the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370.