This past Friday, the Trump administration established new requirements for the 38 countries that are part of the U.S. Visa Waiver Program. It has been announced that they will make use of U.S. counterterrorism data in order to screen travelers from visa waiver countries who wish to visit the United States.
The U.S. Visa Waiver Program is managed by the Department of Homeland Security and it allows that citizens of 38 countries travel to the United States for tourism or business purposes for a period of up to 90 days. These countries are not expected to request a visa, however, they can apply online for the Electronic Travel Authorization also known as the ESTA.
The U.S. President, Donald Trump, is looking to strengthen the rules and restrictions to those who wish to visit or live in the United States. Trump argues that these are necessary measures to improve national security.
The new rules will apply to all 38 nations that are part of this program. According to the news Agency Reuters, "One change is that they will be required to use U.S. information to screen travelers crossing their borders from third countries."
Citizens of certain visa waiver countries tend to overstay. Those countries with high rates of citizens that overstay in the U.S. will be expected to launch awareness campaigns to inform their people of the consequences of staying beyond the permitted period. The penalty for overstaying is that the person will not be able to travel visa-free to the United States in the future.
Currently, the threshold for the overstay rating is two percent. According to official data by the Department of Homeland Security, among the visa waiver countries who have exceeded the percentage are Greece, Hungary, Portugal, and San Marino. However, the overall stay from visa waiver countries is just 0.68 percent.
Reuters reports that members of Congress have conveyed their concern regarding overstays and the security risks these present. According to a report by the DHS inspectors carried out in May, the U.S. doesn't have a program or system to gather information on foreign visitors who leave the country. The DHS relies on third-party data to confirm departures.
An official said that the main purposes of these new rules are to "make sure that their employees, aviation workers, etcetera, aren't corrupted or are co-opted to pose a threat to aircraft, especially those that are U.S. bound."