House Votes To Pass Reform On The Visa Waiver Program
The House of Representatives recently passed Bill H.R. 158 with regards to the improvement of the Visa Waiver Program as related to the Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015. The said bill was approved on a 407 to 19 vote.Advertisement
Under the plans for improvement that achieved bipartisan support, there is a need to expand the criteria, which would determine if a country should be removed from the Visa Waiver Program. Moreover, there is also a pressing need to clarify grounds for ineligibility of travel to the United States as related to terrorism risk.
Aside from this, the Visa Waiver Program Improvement Act of 2015 also states that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) should now take terrorism risk into consideration for the electronic system for travel authorization (ESTA) to determine if an alien is eligible for travel to the United States. At the same time, the DHS is now required to report to Congress regarding the number of travelers whose eligibility had been revoked under the ESTA, compliance of foreign governments when it comes to information sharing about their citizens and patterns that may pose a threat to national security. At the same time, the DHS also reserves the right to suspend a country from the waiver program if it fails to share information about its citizens and nationals who may pose a threat to the U.S.
The Visa Waiver Program typically allows citizens from participating countries to visit and stay in the U.S. for 90 days or less without needing a visa. For a traveler to be eligible to this program, they must also have a valid ESTA approval prior to traveling to the U.S.
There are currently 38 countries participating in the U.S. Visa Waiver Program. These include Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, Chile, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden Switzerland, Taiwan and the United Kingdom.