UNITED STATES – DHS to review visa-waiver countries

The visa waiver program remains available to nationals of 38 countries, but nationals from countries participating in the visa waiver program should be aware that the program is being scrutinized and could lead to changes as DHS reviews each country.

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The Department of Homeland Security has announced that it will review countries in the visa waiver program with additional screening criteria.

The following new requirements will apply to all 38 countries in the program:

  • Countries must fully implement existing information-sharing arrangements by systematically screening travelers against U.S. counterterrorism information.
  • The U.S. will assess each country on the effectiveness of their safeguards against “insider threats in the aviation security environment.”
  • Countries whose citizens have a greater than 2-percent rate of overstaying their visits in the U.S. will be required to initiate a public-information campaign about the terms and conditions of U.S. visas.

Background: The visa waiver program allows nationals of participating countries, mostly in Europe, to be prescreened for an electronic system travel authorization instead of needing to apply for a visa at a U.S. consulate. The ESTA is valid for two years and allows stays of up to 90 days per visit. Visa waiver programs are reciprocal, allowing U.S. citizens to travel to those countries without a visa as well.

BAL Analysis: The visa waiver program remains available to nationals of 38 countries, but nationals from countries participating in the visa waiver program should be aware that the program is being scrutinized and could lead to changes as DHS reviews each country. 

This alert has been provided by the BAL U.S. Practice group. For additional information, please contact berryapplemanleiden@balglobal.com.

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