Countries taking part in the visa waiver program (VWP) will now be required to better screen travelers, to implement aviation safeguards and to administer public education campaigns to reduce visa overstays, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced on Friday.
DHS also called on Congress to codify existing requirements for countries taking part in VWP. Currently, VWP countries are required to report foreign terrorist fighters to multilateral organizations, to collect and analyze passenger travel data in a systematic way, and to allow U.S. federal air marshals on flights bound for the United States.
“The United States faces an adaptive and agile enemy, as terrorists continue to explore ways to reach our country and to direct, enable, and inspire attacks against us,” DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said. “It’s critically important we stay ahead of these threats by improving our security posture. These enhancements will strengthen the program, and they are part of our continued efforts to raise the baseline for homeland security across the board.”
DHS also announced that it will develop targeted engagement plans to ensure that countries taking part in VWP implement and adhere to the new security measures. Currently, citizens from 38 countries that take part in VWP can travel to the United States for up to 90 days without a visa.