New Visa Waiver Program Enhancements

The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
November 30, 2015


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The complete Visa Waiver Program Enhancements press release is available from The Whiter House Press Office.

Overview of the Visa Waiver Program –

FACT SHEET: Visa Waiver Program Enhancements
The Visa Waiver Program (VWP) permits visa free travel for 20 million visitors per year to the United States for citizens of 38 program partner countries around the world. VWP utilizes a layered system of security to detect and prevent terrorists, serious criminals, and other potentially dangerous individuals from traveling to the United States. These layers of security include comprehensive screening of VWP travelers prior to departure for the United States, at various points throughout the traveler’s journey, and upon arrival at U.S. ports of entry. https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2015/11/30/fact-sheet-visa-waiver-program-enhancements

Over the past year, the Administration has taken a series of steps to enhance the significant security measures in the VWP. In the wake of the attacks in Paris, the administration is announcing additional actions today that will further enhance and accelerate these changes. Additionally, the Administration is working closely with Congress to provide statutory authority for many of these security enhancements, which will further improve our ability to implement and enforce the changes.

Recently Enhanced Security Measures
DHS, in consultation with the Department of State, continuously adapts the VWP to address current threats. Over the last year, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of State, in coordination with several other federal agencies, have made a number of significant enhancements to the VWP to ensure our security apparatus continues to adapt in the face of evolving threats.
• DHS introduced additional data fields to the ESTA application in November 2014 that already have produced security benefits.
• DHS introduced new traveler screening and information sharing requirements for VWP countries in August 2015 specifically to address the threat posed by foreign terrorist fighters.
• DHS and the Department of State are working with VWP partners to implement the new VWP requirements, which will strengthen U.S. security and the security of our partners.
• These security enhancements are part of our continuing assessments of U.S. security in the face of evolving threats and challenges, and our determination to stay one step ahead of those threats and challenges.

New Changes Announced Today

MilesGeek has identified the following changes announced today to the Visa Waiver Program as the most likely to be impact our readers:

Given the terrorist attacks in Paris and the ongoing threat posed by foreign terrorist fighters, the United States is aggressively strengthening its Visa Waiver Program and bolstering our relationships with VWP partners by immediately moving forward on the following administrative actions:
• The Secretaries of DHS, State, and Commerce will promote the Global Entry program among VWP partners to further expand this trusted traveler program, which includes biometrics.

Visa Waiver Program Impacts

Working with Congress to Enhance the Visa Waiver Program
The Administration is working with Congress to provide statutory authority for many of the key security enhancements to VWP, including:
• Improving our ability to identify individuals who may have traveled to conflict zones to train or fight with terrorist organizations or other adversaries and increasing information sharing between our VWP partners and INTERPOL;
• Maximizing the use of international agencies like INTERPOL to track lost and stolen travel documents, and to prevent their usage for illicit travel;
• Encouraging VWP partner countries to share information and to use that information in their own border screening activities;
• Accelerating the requirement for 100% of VWP travelers to use e-passports (i.e., passports with embedded security chips);
• Exploring how biometrics could be effectively added to the VWP process; and
• Expanding the use of the DHS’ Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Preclearance program, through which CBP law enforcement officers inspect passengers and their baggage – to include collecting and screening biometrics where appropriate – at foreign airports prior to departing for the United States

MilesGeeks would like to know your reactions to the changes being made. Do you see them impacting your travel either positively or negatively or not at all? Use the comment section below to share your comments with our readers.

Kathy Stafford
Kathy Stafford

Kathy Stafford is a writer, publisher and editor. She was a contributing author to "Sasha Cohen Fire on Ice". She has been a contributing editor to several publications including, "Discover Balboa Park: A Complete Guide". Kathy was publisher and editor of "Skating Sketches", reporting on figure skating worldwide, for over ten years. She was a credentialed journalist as a figure skating specialist for the 2002 Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City. She has covered international skating events in Switzerland, France, Finland, England, Canada and the United States with published articles in Canada, Japan, and the United States. Although she never accepted an assignment, she was on the list of approved Lonely Planet authors for three years. She is currently combining her love of travel, and her background as a writer and editor, as a publisher and author of travel related journalism. In addition, she blogs about her search for her family roots at www.cherokeerootsblog.com.

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