Integrity Legal

Posts Tagged ‘VWP’

14th March 2011

For those who are unaware, the United States Customs and Border Protection Service (USCBP) is responsible for monitoring the ports of entry to the United States of America. For some, it may be possible to receive a sort of pre-approval for expedited admission at the various ports of entry in and around the United States.  To quote directly from the homepage of the website GlobalEntry.gov:

Global Entry is a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) program that allows expedited clearance for pre-approved, low-risk travelers upon arrival in the United States. Though intended for frequent international travelers, there is no minimum number of trips necessary to qualify for the program. Participants may enter the United States by using automated kiosks located at select airports.

As noted in the citation above, it may be possible for those who are in the program to enter the United States using an automated kiosk rather than the standard method of entering the USA through a classic immigration checkpoint. In order to better understand this it may be best to quote directly from the “About” page of the website GlobalEntry.gov:

At airports, program participants proceed to Global Entry kiosks, present their machine-readable U.S. passport or permanent resident card, place their fingertips on the scanner for fingerprint verification, and make a customs declaration. The kiosk issues the traveler a transaction receipt and directs the traveler to baggage claim and the exit.

Travelers must be pre-approved for the Global Entry program. All applicants undergo a rigorous background check and interview before enrollment.

While Global Entry’s goal is to speed travelers through the process, members may be selected for further examination when entering the United States. Any violation of the program’s terms and conditions will result in appropriate enforcement action and revocation of the traveler’s membership privileges.

The Customs and Border Protection Service has a broad mandate to monitor the ports of entry to the United States as well as enforcing relevant customs law. Meanwhile, USCBP recently held the chair of a subcommittee of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) organization, which is dedicated to economic coordination of the various Asia-Pacific countries. Currently, the United States of America chairs APEC since the chair was turned over to the United States from the Japanese in November of 2010.

Those reading this posting should not confuse the global entry program with the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) nor the visa waiver program (VWP, which itself should not be confused with the I-601 waiver or the I-212 waiver) as these are different programs and may not be relevant to those seeking information regarding ESTA and the VWP.

For related information please see: USCIS.

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30th June 2009

There are some countries whose nationals have the right to travel to the United States of America without first obtaining a visa. The US Visa Waiver Program (VWP) was designed to allow certain foreign nationals visa-free travel to the United States. The visa waiver program should not be confused with an I-601 waiver of the grounds of inadmissibility.

Since September 11, 2001 the the Department of Homeland Security, United States Customs Department, United State Immigration and Citizenship Service (USCIS), the Transportation Safety Authority, and other United States Federal agencies have been formulating ways to better maintain security with regard to international travel. It was determined that the Visa Waiver program might be used by possibly hostile parties as a method for entering the United States in order to conduct harmful activity. As a result of this policy decision, the US authorities have attempted to implement a precreening process for thse entering the United States via the Waiver Program. This process is known by its acronym: ESTA.

The Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) was made operational under Section 217 of the Immigration and Nationality Act, as amended by Section 711 of the “Implementing Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Act of 2007,” Pub. L. No. 110-53. The Act compelled the Department of Homeland Security to institute a systematic method to verify the fitness of travelers to the USA and make sure such travelers pose no imminent threat to American safety.

The ESTA is a no-cost, fully computerized program used to ascertain the qualifications of those traveling to the United States of America through the use of the American Visa Waiver Program. The Electronic System for Travel Authorization gathers similar information as that required on Form I-94W. An ESTA application can be tendered at any point before traveling to the United States of America. That being said, the United States Customs and Immigration Service (USCIS) and the Department of Homeland Security advise that travelers submit an ESTA application when they begin setting a travel itinerary.

As of January 12, 2009, those who are citizens of any country that participates in the Visa Waiver Program must obtain travel approval from ESTA before they will be allowed to enter the USA under VWP.

Some people are under the misconception that ESTA is a visa.  An ESTA approval is not a visa. Instead it is a prescreening for entry into the United States visa free.

For those who have trouble with the English language, the website has been translated into Czech, Danish, Dutch, Estonian, Finnish, French, German, Hungarian, Icelandic, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Latvian, Lithuanian, Norwegian, Portuguese, Slovak, Slovenian, Spanish, and Swedish.

(Please note: this is intended for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. No attorney/client relationship is created between author and reader).

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29th June 2009

Visa Waivers are often accorded to nationals from countries that have a long standing relationship with the USA. Currently, the Kingdom of Thailand is not a participant in the US Visa Waiver Program, therefore, anyone wishing to travel to the USA on a Thai passport must obtain some sort of American Visa.

The US Visa waiver program should not be confused with a waiver of excludability which is usually necessity after a US visa denial based upon a legal ground of inadmissibility. The US Visa Waiver Program (VWP) was created to allow certain foreign nationals entry into the United States visa-free.

In the mid-1980′s, the US Immigration Reform and Control Act integrated the Visa Waiver Pilot Program into the United States Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). The Visa waiver initiative remained a pilot program until October 30, 2000. At that time, the Visa Waiver Permanent Program Act made the program a permanent fixture of immigration law. The Visa Waiver Program’s legal foundation is stipulated in section 217 of the United States Immigration and Nationality Act. In 2007, the addition of section 711 of the INA created measures to strengthen the security of the Visa Waiver Program.

The Secretary of Homeland Security and the Secretary of State, may assign a nation as a participant in the Visa Waiver program if:

  1. The nation grants similar travel rights to Americans;
  2. The nation has attested that it dispenses electronic passports that contain data storage chips;
  3. The nation started issuing such Passports to its citizens on or before October 26, 2006.
  4. The Secretary of Homeland Security and the Secretary of State prepare a report calculating the effect the country’s VWP authorization upon US security; and
  5. The Secretary of Homeland Security and the Secretary of State decide that the nation’s inclusion in the program will not damage American security interest, this includes issues involved in the enforcement of US Immigration law.

Who can enjoy the Visa Waiver Program?

The nationals of the following countries are eligible to enter the USA under the Visa Waiver Program: Andorra, Austria, Australia, Belgium, Brunei, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Monaco, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Republic of Korea, San Marino, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom (With regard to United Kingdom Passports, Only UK passports denoted as “British Citizens” and/or “with unrestricted right of abode in the United Kingdom” are eligible for entrance to the USA under the Visa Waiver Program. Those holding passports designating that the bearer is a “British Subject,”  “British Dependent Territories Citizen,” “British Overseas Citizen,” or “British National [Overseas],” cannot enter the United States through the Visa waiver program.)

In order to enter the USA visa-free on the Visa Waiver Program an entrant must first use the Electronic System for Travel Authorization.

(Please note: Nothing contained herein should be used as legal advice. No attorney-client relationship is created by reading this piece.)

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