DHS Announces Intention to Implement Security Enhancements to Visa Waiver Program

On August 6, 2015, Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security ("DHS"), Jeh Johnson, released a statement announcing DHS and the State Department's intent to implement a number of additional or revised security criteria for all participants in the Visa Waiver Program ("VWP"). These criteria will apply to both new and current members of the Program.  In addition, these enhancements are intended to build upon the additional data fields of information added to the Electronic System for Travel Authorization ("ESTA") application last fall.

The most significant of the new security enhancements include:

  1. The requirement that VWP members use e-passports for all travel to the U.S.
  2. The requirement that the INTERPOL Lost and Stolen Passport Database be used to screen travelers crossing the borders of a VWP country.
  3. Permission for expanded use of U.S. federal air marshals on international flights from VWP countries to the U.S.

Secretary Johnson's statement emphasized that the new measures were intended to enhance security without hindering lawful trade and travel between VWP participating countries.