Visa Waiver Program [Updated October 18, 2004]   [open pdf - 92KB]

From the Summary: "The USA PATRIOT Act enacted a requirement that by October 1, 2003, all aliens applying for admission under the VWP [visa waiver program] must have machine-readable passports; however, the act allows the Secretary of State to waive the requirement until September 30, 2007, and the requirement was waived for 22 of the 27 countries participating in the VWP. In addition, the Enhanced Border Security and Visa Reform Act of 2002 requires that by October 26, 2004, all countries participating in the VWP must issue their nationals machine-readable passports that incorporate 'biometric identifiers'; however, the deadline was extended until October 26, 2004 by P.L. [Public Law] 108-299. Notably, 'The 9/11 Commission Report' recommends that DHS complete as quickly as possible a biometric entry-exit screening system. S. 2845 as passed by the Senate, would require that each VWP country, as a condition of being in the VWP, have a program to issue tamper-resident, machine-readable visa documents that incorporate biometric identifiers which are compatible with the biometric identifiers used in the US-VISIT [ United States Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology] program. There is no comparable provision in the House-passed version of S. 2845. Additional legislation, H.R. 4550, would require those entering under the VWP to undergo an electronic verification of admissibility before embarkation. Other bills would suspend the VWP (H.R. 2235, H.R. 3522, and H.R. 3534). H.R. 3956/S. 2844 would add Poland to the program. This report will be updated if legislative action occurs."

Report Number:
CRS Report for Congress, RL32221
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