Washington – The U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced today the Interim Final Rule for the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA), a new online system that is part of the Visa Waiver Program and is required by the Implementing Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Act of 2007.
“Rather than relying on paper-based procedures, this system will leverage 21st century electronic means to obtain basic information about who is traveling to the U.S. without a visa,” said Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff. “Getting this information in advance enables our frontline personnel to determine whether a visa-free traveler presents a threat, before boarding an aircraft or arriving on our shores. It is a relatively simple and effective way to strengthen our security, and that of international travelers, while helping to preserve an important program for key allies.”
Once ESTA is mandatory, all nationals or citizens of visa waiver countries who plan to travel to the United States for temporary business or pleasure under the VWP will need to receive an electronic travel authorization prior to boarding a U.S.-bound airplane or cruise ship. The requirement will go into effect next year and does not affect U.S. citizens traveling overseas.
Source: DHS Newsroom; full text here>>.