Washington has decided, after the attacks in Paris 13 November to strengthen the control of nationals of countries which hitherto benefited from the ESTA visa. The French and Belgian citizens are particularly concerned.
The United States announced Monday a tougher visa waiver program enjoyed by nationals of forty allies. So far, only nationals of countries at war undergoing a very thorough study of their visa to enter the United States. US Customs will now broaden the scope of the questionnaire completed by offered visitors visa to enter US soil.
Washington expects enhanced cooperation of its allies
There are people which, until now, could enter the United States by completing the online ESTA. They avoided thus intensified checks. Now, visitors of 38 countries benefiting from this device will have to declare their stays in qualified countries “paradise for terrorists” by the US Department of Homeland Security.
At present these countries, 23 of the European Union including of France , Switzerland, Norway, Australia, New Zealand, Chile, Japan, Singapore and some small states (Andorra, Brunei …) benefit from this exemption.
The US services will also strengthen their cooperation with the police and intelligence partner countries. Washington expects its allies cooperation and wider sharing information to try to intercept the “foreign fighters” returning from conflict zones such as Syria.
These new measures were decided in the wake of attacks of Paris, 13 November. These terrorist acts were carried out by radicalized Europeans, many of which have been driven by the group Islamic State in its databases Syria and Iraq, before returning to Europe. As a French or Belgian citizens, they could easily enter the United States through the ESTA visa waiver program and avoid the strict controls imposed on nationals of other countries, particularly to refugees.
The Deputy National Security Advisor to the White House, Ben Rhodes, speaking in Paris on Monday, said: “We have always been concerned that the flow of foreign fighters into and out of Europe is much more important than in the US … We enjoy the fact that we have a population that does not have the same desire to join the Islamic state in Syria. ”
US federal agencies will also work with the authorities of countries with access to the visa waiver program to to collect biometric data.
The US teams will be deployed in areas in which jihadists returning from war zones could seek to transit for then travel to the United States.
The spokesman for the White House, Josh Earnest, called on Congress to act quickly to adopt the measures for financing these security arrangements.
About 20 million travelers entered without a visa to the States States in 2013, according to the Department of Homeland Security, or just over a third of temporary visitors.