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USCIS Announces Plans to Implement Security Enhancements to the Visa Waiver Program

Last week, Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh C. Johnson announced that the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of State, along with certain other federal agencies, will begin introducing a number of additional and revised security criteria for all participants in the Visa Waiver Program. The criteria will apply to new and current members of the program and current program members have been consulted on the changes.
Most notable among the new security requirements are:

  • The required use of e-passports for all Visa Waiver Program travelers coming to the United States;
  • The required use of INTERPOL Lost and Stolen Passport Database to screen travelers crossing a Visa Waiver country’s borders; and
  • Permission for the expanded use of U.S. federal air marshals on international flights from Visa Waiver countries to the United States.

These security enhancements build on security changes made to the Visa Waiver Program last year, when additional data fields of information were included in the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) application for those seeking travel to the U.S. with Visa Waiver passports.
The changes are part of the Department of Homeland Security’s continuing assessment of homeland security in the face of evolving threats and challenges and the Department is determined to remain one step ahead of these threats and challenges. These security changes will not hinder lawful trade and travel with partners in the Visa Waiver Program.
The Visa Waiver Program is a valuable program for lawful trade and travel with the Nation’s most trusted partners. Currently, there are 38 partners in the program, some of which include Australia, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Spain, and the United Kingdom. These measures are expected to enhance security for all parties involved.
Please click here for more information on the Visa Waiver Program.
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