DHS to provide full report on Visa Waiver Program

29 Jan 16

UNITED STATES

Under security enhancements to the Visa Waiver Program announced by the White House in November, the Department of Homeland Security is expected to review the participation of the 38 countries in the program and make a full report to the president shortly.

The report is due at the end of January, as the White House announcement set the deadline for 60 days after Nov. 30.

The report is expected to identify countries in the program that are deficient in key areas of cooperation and recommend compliance measures for them, including possible suspension from the program or requiring certain nationals to renew their Electronic System for Travel Authorization more frequently.

DHS spokesman S.Y. Lee said that the agency routinely reviews Visa Waiver Program countries to assess the impact of their participation on U.S. security, immigration enforcement, and law enforcement. “At this time, no determination has been made on changing the status of any current VWP country,” he added.

DHS is also expected to report on pilot programs to better collect biometrics in the program. Earlier this month, U.S. Customs and Border Protection introduced facial recognition technology at JFK Airport in New York for first-time Visa Waiver Program users and for U.S. citizens who hold e-passports.

The Visa Waiver Program allows nationals from 38 countries – mostly in Europe – to travel to the U.S. without a visa, and has come under scrutiny for potential security gaps in the wake of mass attacks in Paris. DHS and the State Department recently implemented new legal provisions that restrict certain dual nationals and those who have traveled to Iran, Iraq, Sudan or Syria from using the program.

BAL Analysis: BAL is following changes to the Visa Waiver Program and will continue to report if additional restrictions are imposed on travelers.

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