There are 38 countries which are a part of the US ‘Visa Waiver Program’. This is a misnomer, because while a visa isn’t required passengers coming to the US get what in any other country would be considered a Visa only it’s called an ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization) and applying for it costs $14.
US ‘actual’ visas are more cumbersome and time consuming to obtain. It’s much easier to come to the US if you’re a citizen of a country eligible for an ESTA.
Here are the 38 countries: Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, Chile, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan and the UK.
Copyright: prestonia / 123RF Stock Photo
The US Department of Homeland Security announced on Friday that it’s imposing new conditions on countries in order for their citizens to remain to obtain an ESTA to visit the U.S.
- Full information sharing, “systematically screening travelers crossing their respective borders against U.S. counterterrorism information” effectively turning control over who enters and leaves foreign countries to the U.S. government
- Allowing the US to investigate and determine “effectiveness of safeguards against insider threats in the aviation security environment”
- Requiring these 38 countries to develop a marketing campaign about how important it is not to overstay in the U.S. if the US determines that 2% or more of visitors from the country overstay.
In addition “DHS is also calling on Congress to codify existing VWP requirements” (i.e. make what they’re already doing legal).
• Reporting of foreign terrorist fighter information to multilateral organizations, such as INTERPOL and EUROPOL;
• Systematically collecting and analyzing passenger travel data (Advance Passenger Information/Passenger Name Records); and
• Concluding arrangements to permit U.S. Federal Air Marshals to operate onboard U.S. air carriers for last point of departure flights to the United States.
Copyright: andreyuu / 123RF Stock Photo
By the way no air marshal has ever stopped a terrorist or hijacker since the service was founded in 1962. Although an air marshal did shoot and kill a US citizen in 2005. If something really bad did happen on a flight and an air marshal was onboard they lack the training to do anything about it. They regularly commit violent crimes and forget their guns inside airports.
Liam Neeson in 2014 film “Non-Stop”
But don’t worry, because the Department of Homeland Security ‘has assessed’ that they’re not doing anything which will “hinder lawful trade and travel.” And remember that it’s for your own good, everyone in these countries “will benefit.”