One of the most important programs being developed by the Department of Homeland Security as the Chertoff regime departs is the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA). Individuals traveling under the Visa Waiver Program, who have not been interviewed by a consular official, will be required to submit a short form with biographical information similar to that provided on the I-94 form currently used BEFORE traveling to the U.S. Recognizing that not all travelers will learn of the new requirement and that not all air carriers have built IT connections to check ESTA approvals before boarding, U.S. Customs and Border Protection plans a “soft” enforcement regime for at least several months as the program becomes live. Of course, ESTA is just one layer in our security apparatus that also includes passenger reviewed by CBP at the National Targeting Center and US-VISIT biometrics checks.
The United States is considering admitting Israel into the Visa Waiver Program, announces a recent news article. Interior Minister Meir Sheetrit stated the reasoning behind this consideration when he said, “It is absurd that the U.S. requires Israelis to have visas, when Americans are exempt from the need for a visa to Israel, and in many states around the world Israelis enter without visas,” Both Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff and Under Secretary of State William Burns are in agreement regarding this step toward Israel.