White House Announces Small Changes to Visa Waiver Program

The White House today announced a set of executive actions to restrict the U.S. visa waiver program, which allows citizens from a list of pre-cleared countries to travel to the United States without first obtaining a visa. The program has received scrutiny in the wake of the Paris terror attacks, as lawmakers have aired concerns that terrorists could enter the U.S. through the program.

Among the changes, the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI will both provide reports to the president on how to bolster the security of the program, and the DHS will more closely scrutinize the travel history of waiver applicants.

The White House has said it is still working with Congress on legislative fixes to improve the program. Some of the proposed changes include requiring the use of e-passports by all travelers in the program and expanding the use of biometrics.

Meanwhile, Republican lawmakers have been pushing other changes they say will protect against terrorist infiltration. The House voted 289-137 to pass a bill that would step up security measures for refugees entering the U.S. from Iraq and Syria. The White House has promised to veto the bill if it makes it to the president’s desk.

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