Trump administration issues new rules on USA visa waivers

US President Donald Trump

The changes also affect VWP countries that have higher rates of citizens overstaying their visas to the U.S. If more than 2 percent of a country's visitors stay beyond the expiration of their visa, that country will be required to carry out a public information campaign aimed at reducing those overstay violations, the Department of Homeland Security announced.

"The United States faces an adaptive and agile enemy, as terrorists continue to explore ways to reach our country and to direct, enable and inspire attacks against us", said Kirstjen Nielsen, Homeland Security secretary.

The United States is expanding the requirements for dozens of countries taking part in the Visa Waiver Program, demanding that the countries check traveler information against USA counterterrorism information.

The move represents the latest step by the Trump administration to more closely screen incoming travelers in the name of national security. The administration has moved to implement travel bans, mostly targeting Muslim countries, although court challenges to those orders are continuing. Premium processing for H-1B visas for an additional fee was suspended; the application for computer programmers was made harder, and the Request for Evidence (REF) have gone up alarmingly, which delays or even cancels an H-1B which has been issued, putting both workers and companies in limbo.

Furthermore, the Department of Homeland Security also signalled a review of the occupations that are now eligible for the H1-B visa in order to "increase focus on truly obtaining the best and brightest foreign nationals". Travelers are still vetted and countries that participate must agree to more stringent information-sharing, and the US must have confidence in those other countries' processes.

The VWP changes will apply to all countries in the program.

The U.S. will assess the safeguards used by each country against "insider threats" at their airports. The U.S. already shares those databases with these countries, officials said. People who overstay their visas make up an estimated 40% of the 11 million undocumented immigrants who live in America.

An estimated 629,000 visitors - a little more than 1 percent of all travelers - remained in the United States at the end of previous year after overstaying their visas as students, workers or tourists, according to the Department of Homeland Security. But it said the new rules should provide more assurances that people traveling from those countries have been vetted. But officials said they don't expect any problems, describing the 38 countries as "our closest partners" in screening out terror threats.

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