Starting today, travelers visiting the United States under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) risk being detained at airports and sent home if they don’t comply with new U.S. immigration rules.
The introduction of the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) means visitors from 27 VWP countries — including most of Western Europe, New Zealand, Japan and Australia — must now register their details online at least three days before departure.
ESTA — which came into effect today — replaces the written green I-94 form and allows travelers under the VWP to enter the U.S. without a visa and stay for up to 90 days.
The measure is designed to tighten security and make it harder for terrorists who are citizens of the participating countries to easily obtain entry to the U.S…
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has assured travelers that the system can handle last-minute and emergency requests. Well, then we haven’t a thing to worry about. Right?
Travelers are advised that ESTA does not guarantee entry into the United States. The final decision rests with the immigration official at the port of entry.
I really like that last bit. You’re still in the hands of small-time individual pettifoggery.