In a bid to curb the flow of potential terrorists entering the country, the United States has enhanced security measures for people travelling from countries where an entry visa is not necessary.
Travelers from 37 countries, including Australia, will be affected by the changes.
Australians travelling to the US for less than 90 days for business or leisure, or heading on to other countries such as Canada, usually do not require a visa. Instead, they require a visa waiver which must be obtained before departure.
As of today, Australians will need to hand over extra information about themselves when submitting an application for that waiver as part of the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA).
The Department of Homeland Security said the new information sought includes additional passport data, contact information, and other potential names or aliases.
Here’s the full statement by Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson on the new rules:
Effective today, those seeking to travel to the United States from countries in our Visa Waiver Program (VWP) will be required to provide additional data fields of information in the travel application submitted via the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA). The new information sought includes additional passport data, contact information, and other potential names or aliases. We are taking this step to enhance the security of the Visa Waiver Program, to learn more about travelers from countries from whom we do not require a visa. We are also confident these changes will not hinder lawful trade and travel between our Nation and our trusted foreign allies in the Visa Waiver Program.
The new security measures implemented by the US have been enacted just days after the Abbott Government’s Foreign Fighters bill was passed in the Senate.
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