By Jennifer Billock
In an effort to tighten security around visitors to the United States, the Trump administration is making some updates to the Visa Waiver Program. Officials have noted that no credible threat spurred these updates, and that the new regulations appear to specifically be focused on ensuring travelers on a visa actually leave after the prescribed 90-day timeframe.
Currently, travelers from 38 countries are allowed to enter the United States for 90 days without having a physical visa in-hand. Now, screening will be stricter on those travelers, using counterterrorism information provided to the countries from the U.S. That won’t be much of a change, though, as many of the countries in the waiver program already do this.
This biggest change will likely appear when dealing with travelers who have outstayed the 90-day welcome. Trump’s administration will now require countries with the highest rates of overstays from their citizens to produce self-funded public campaigns that discourage overstaying by highlighting the consequences. According to information provided to Get.com by the Department of Homeland Security, Hungary, Portugal, and Greece are responsible for the most overstays in the U.S.
More changes are on the horizon moving forward, as well. Countries participating in the waiver program will likely have their airport operations observed to ensure there are no chances of corruption or intended harm on flights heading for the U.S., and each country in the program will be assessed for effectiveness of their internal security procedures.