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Fight Against Terrorism: Tightening the Visa Waiver Program

WHAT IS THE VISA WAIVER PROGRAM?

Congress made the decision to tighten the visa waiver program in an effort to improve security against potential threats. Roughly 20 million visitors come to the United States each year for business or tourism under the visa waiver program, mainly from European countries. The visa waiver program allows citizens of 38 countries to travel to the United States without a visa for stays short periods of time.

WHAT CHANGES HAVE BEEN PROPOSED TO THE PROGRAM?

Passengers who are from countries included in the visa waiver program may be required to undergo screenings or interviews before entering the United States.

The changes are intended to prevent attacks in the United States by citizens of countries that participate in the visa waiver program. The concern is that most of the Paris attackers were citizens of Belgium and France.

One of several changes being made to the program is the new requirement for passports to include an electronic microchip containing personal information, allowing the United States to more easily track and identify passengers. Another change that is planned is allowing Border Security Personnel to ask travelers if they have been to countries that support terrorism in the past five years. Border Security Personnel would be able to deny visa-free travel to anyone who has been in Iraq or Syria in the last five years.

The United States government has already begun tightening entry into the United States with requiring biometrics testing.

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