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visa waiver program


The House of Representatives has passed a bill tightening visa-free travel to the US following the Paris attacks.

The measures would bar people who traveled to Iraq and Syria after March 2011 from the Visa Waiver Program (VWP).

People who have visited Iran and Sudan – which the US accuses of supporting terrorism – would also need a visa.

The White House-backed bill was proposed because the Paris attackers could have traveled to the US without a visa.

Donald Trump has called for far greater restrictions, proposing that all Muslims be barred from entering the US until further notice.Visa free travel bill House

The Republican presidential candidate’s comments – made after a deadly mass shooting in San Bernardino, California, by Islamist sympathizers – have been condemned by politicians from across the political spectrum.

The House voted 407 to 19 in support of the proposed change to visa-free travel.

“In an abundance of caution, we will now require those individuals to apply for a visa and go through the formal visa screening process,” said House Republican Candice Miller, the bill’s main sponsor.

There are 38 nations currently included in the US VWP.

According to US officials, about 5,000 Europeans, including many from VWP nations, have traveled to Syria and Iraq to fight with extremist groups such as ISIS and pose a risk to the US.

If the bill passes through the Senate and is signed into law, it would also require all travelers arriving in the US under the VWP to have electronic passports containing biometric data from next April.

The bill also calls for countries participating in the VWP to share more information about suspected terrorists and criminals.


The US State Department has announced it will tighten travel restrictions on foreigners who visit the country without needing full visas.

About 20 million people from 38 countries enter the United States each year under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP).

The move has come under increased scrutiny since last month’s attacks in Paris, with lawmakers expressing concern that militants could get into the US.

Under changes that are be submitted to Congress, all countries in the scheme would be asked to issue “e-passports”.US Visa Waiver Program after Paris attacks

Their registrations would come under greater scrutiny from US agencies, and travelers would also be screened to see if they had traveled to militant-held areas.

The Department of Homeland Security will also ask Congress for additional powers, including increase fines for airlines that fail to verify passport data.

The changes will “enhance our ability to thwart terrorist attempts to travel on lost or stolen passports”, White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters in Paris, where President Barack Obama is attending UN talks on climate change.

The Visa Waiver Program currently allows people from designated countries to visit the US for 90-day stays without getting a visa.

Several of the suspected perpetrators of the Paris terror attacks were from Belgium and France, which are countries on the list.