Border Security: Implications of Eliminating the Visa Waiver Program, Report to the Chairman, Subcommittee on National Security, Veterans Affairs, and International Relations, Committee on Government Reform, House of Representatives [open pdf - 885KB]
Since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the U.S. Congress, the administration, law enforcement officials, and the public have questioned the effectiveness of U.S. visa programs in protecting national security. Some have voiced concern that terrorists or other criminals may exploit one of these programs--the Visa Waiver Program--to enter the United States. The program enables citizens of 28 participating countries to travel to the United States for tourism or business for 90 days or less without first obtaining a visa. GAO was asked to review the Visa Waiver Program, including the process for assessing countries' eligibility to participate in the program. GAO was also asked to determine the implications--specifically those affecting national security, foreign relations, tourism, and State Department resources--of eliminating the program. To ensure that countries participating in the Visa Waiver Program pose a low risk to U.S. national interests, the Departments of Justice and State verify each country's political and economic stability and the security of its passport issuance process.
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