VWP Travelers Must Apply for Security Clearance Online
Those seeking to travel to the U.S. under the Visa Waiver Program are now subject to enhanced security requirements as of January 12, 2009. All eligible travelers who wish to travel under the Visa Waiver Program must apply for authorization using the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA), available at https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/. All VWP travelers applying for admission at a U.S. port of entry, including VWP travelers who have obtained travel authorization via ESTA, also must present a completed Form I-94W to U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
The stimulus package bill passed by the House of Representatives includes provisions on the Visa Waiver Program that would enhance program security requirements and extend the VWP to nationals of foreign countries “that are partners in the war on terrorism.” The bill also would “support and expand tourism and business opportunities to enhance long-term economic competitiveness,” and would establish a “maximum visa overstay rate” for participating countries.
More information about ESTA is available here. Additional information about the VWP is available here. The full text of the House bill, H.R. 1, is available as a PDF.