Today, in a 407-19 vote, the House passed legislation restricting certain travel privileges to nationals of visa waiver participant countries. The legislation, which has the support of the White House, is expected to be wrapped into the much-discussed government spending bill and become law in the next few weeks.
Rather than a comprehensive approach, this new legislation appears to be the first of what will be a piecemeal approach to implementing enhanced security measures in response to the November 13th Paris terrorist attacks and the recent shooting in San Bernardino, CA. The legislation comes in the wake of the White House's release of a Fact Sheet outlining new security enhancements that would be implemented immediately to add additional security measures to the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), which is a program that allows nationals of 38 member countries to enter the U.S. as a visitor for up to 90 days without procuring a visa.
The legislation would ban nationals of visa waiver countries who have traveled to Iran, Iraq, Sudan, or Syria since March 1, 2011 from traveling to the U.S. under the VWP. Such individuals must now obtain a visa to travel to the U.S., which requires an in-person interview at a U.S. Consulate or Embassy overseas.
D&S will continue to monitor the changes that are anticipated to be made to the Visa Waiver Program in the coming weeks and provide timely updates outlining new developments.