Trump administration cracks down on visa waiver program


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 US counterterrorism information.

The Trump administration put new requirements in place on Friday for the 38 countries participating in the U.S. Visa Waiver Programme, including that they use U.S. counter terrorism data to screen travelers, officials said.

The Visa Waiver Program allows citizens of 38 countries to travel to the USA for business or tourism for up to 90 days without having to obtain visas.

In the 2016 fiscal year, of the VWP countries, Greece, Hungary, Portugal, and San Marino, a wealthy enclave landlocked inside central Italy, had total overstay rates higher than two per cent, according to a report by the Department of Homeland Security. "These enhancements will strengthen the program, and they are part of our continued efforts to raise the baseline for homeland security across the board", Nielsen said, via an emailed DHS statement announcing the modifications.

President Trump has tried several times to implement a travel ban against majority-Muslim countries that he has deemed to be threats due to their ties to terrorism.

That order called for the H-1B visa program for skilled workers to be reviewed with the aim of reforming it.

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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".

If more than 2% of a nation's travelers don't leave on time, their country might have to establish a public education program for its citizens, the department said.

The U.S. will assess the safeguards used by each country against "insider threats" at their airports.

Numerous 38 countries already do the sort of screening and vetting against US databases that the new rules require, officials said. People who overstay their visas make up an estimated 40% of the 11 million undocumented immigrants who live in America.

While not being explicit, DHS said they are in the process of revising the definition of what occupations are eligible for the program "to increase focus on truly obtaining the best and brightest foreign nationals".

The new declaration by DHS is far more serious: it's likely that soon the DHS may bar all low level technology workers (read that as those who are not from reputed universities in India, or those without years of experience at a top notch overseas multinational company, and those who won't be offered a six figure or close to six figure salary) to be barred from applying, for an H-1B visa.

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