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NEW RULE requires registration of visa waiver travelers 3 days BEFORE they arrive in the U.S.

Posted: June 23rd, 2008 | Author: | Filed under: National News | No Comments »

Foreign visitors to the U.S. will soon start to hear about a new policy if they come from a “visa waiver” country. The “visa waiver” program allows travelers from visa waiver countries, including most of Western Europe, to come to the U.S. for up to 90 days without a visa.

Starting January 12, 2009, travelers from 27 countries that participate in the visa waiver program will have to provide the U.S. with basic identification information at least three days before their arrival. This will be done via internet. The on-line registration will be valid for 2 years unless the traveler’s passport expires sooner. The new system is called Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA).

ESTA was designed to increase security screening of visa waiver travelers without the delays of a full security screening normally done on foreigners who must enter with a proper visa.

On Aug. 1, 2008, the government will begin to accept voluntary applications through the Web site at

One potential problem with the ESTA program is that it could create delays or backlogs for foreigners who need a visa to enter the U.S. The Government Accounting Office recently issued a report estimating the 1% to 5% of travelers seeking ESTA pre-screening might be rejected. These travelers would then have to apply for a visa to enter the U.S. This could significantly increase the number of people seeking visas at U.S. embassies abroad. The government has not indicated that it plans to increase staff to deal with the extra workload.

UPDATE: On July 24, 2008, USCBP provided the public with a sneak preview of the new ESTA web tool. You can download this at the following site:

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Written by Chris Jaensch

Chris Jaensch

Attorney P. Christopher Jaensch received a Bachelor of Arts degree in History in 1992 and a Juris Doctor degree in 1995 from the University of Florida. While at UF, he was a member of Sigma Chi Fraternity, Phi Beta Kappa Society and Florida Blue Key, the oldest and most prestigious leadership honorary in the state of Florida.

Mr. Jaensch is a member of the Florida Bar, the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) and the Sarasota Bar Association. He has served as President of the Sarasota-Manatee International Trade Club and served as Regional Vice Chair, Tampa Bay, for the Central Florida Chapter of AILA. He was a member of City of Sarasota Charter Review Committee and has been active in several local organizations, including the influential Laurel Park Neighborhood Association in downtown Sarasota.

Mr. Jaensch has over 18 years of experience in the field of immigration and nationality law and focuses his practice on four primary categories (a) investors and entrepreneurs, (b) business executives, managers and professionals, (c) amateur and professional athletes and coaches and (d) performing artists and immigrants with extraordinary ability.

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