The November 13th, 2015 terrorist attacks in Paris have spurred the U.S. Government to re-examine the ease of access into the United States through the Visa Waiver Program. This evaluation has been predominantly due to concerns that a terrorist with nationality from a VWP partner country could potentially enter into the United States undetected.
The new security measures may aggravate travel into the United States through the Visa Waiver Program causing business travel setbacks. Accordingly, as an alternative remedial measure, executives and business investors should consider obtaining an L-1A or E-2 Visa if they intend to do long-term US business in order to avoid being impacted by the restrictions.
The White House recently stated that “[g]iven the terrorist attacks in Paris and the ongoing threat posed by foreign terrorist fighters, the United States is aggressively strengthening its Visa Waiver Program and bolstering our relationships with VWP partners.”
Notable security measures taken by the White House released on a November 30th include:
- Department of Homeland Security will immediately take steps to modify its Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) applications to capture information from VWP travelers regarding any past travel to countries constituting a terrorist safe haven;
- The Director of National Intelligence, in coordination with the Secretary of Homeland Security, will identify and regularly review these countries so that traveler risk assessments can be made on the most up-to-date information;
- The Departments of Homeland Security and State, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and U.S. intelligence community elements will deploy Foreign Fighter Surge Teams to work with countries to counter terrorist travel.
About VWP. The Visa Waiver Program permits citizens of participating countries to travel to the United States without a visa for stays of ninety (90) days or less. “The Visa Waiver Program (VWP) permits visa free travel for 20 million visitors per year to the United States for citizens of 38 program partner countries around the world”. Travelers must be eligible to use the VWP and have a valid Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) approval prior to travel.
The WVP countries include:
Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, Chile, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, United Kingdom.
To learn more about your visa options please see our “Coming to America” page.