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US on Alert, Tightens Visa Waiver Program Rules

visa_waiverNationals from 38 countries traveling to the United States under the current visa waiver program will now have to show e-passports containing biometric information such as fingerprinting.

The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced last week that it was tightening security measures for visitors from the 38 countries in its visa waiver program, “in the face of evolving threats and challenges, and our determination to stay one step ahead of those threats and challenges”.

Additional security “enhancements” foresee that Visa Waiver Program participating countries must now allow more US air marshals on flights into the US and will also be required to use an international database to screen for lost and stolen passports.

DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson said in a statement that members of the Visa Waiver Program would be consulted about the changes.

Under the program, citizens from 38 countries, mostly from Europe, are allowed to travel to the US visa-free for periods of up to 90 days.

Among the 38 participating countries are Greece, Australia, Belgium, France, the UK, Germany, Italy and Japan.

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