UNCLAS STATE 016751
FOR CONSULAR SECTION CHIEFS AND NIV CHIEFS
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: CVIS, CMGT
SUBJECT: VISA APPLICATIONS, MACHINE-READABLE PASSPORTS AND
BIOMETRICS: REQUIREMENTS FOR NIV APPLICANTS BEFORE AND
AFTER OCTOBER 26, 2004
1. Several posts have expressed confusion over upcoming machine-readable passport (MRP) and biometric passport deadlines for travelers to the U.S. under the Visa Waiver Program and how these requirements relate to NIV applicants. CA hopes this cable will answer posts questions.
2. There is no/no worldwide requirement that visa applicants of any nationality must present an MRP in order to apply for a visa. The only, repeat only, MRP requirement for foreign travelers to the U.S. applies to nationals of the 27 Visa Waiver Program (VWP) countries arriving at POE''s without visas. The MRP requirement for most VWP travelers will take effect October 26, 2004; for nationals of Andorra, Belgium, Brunei, Liechtenstein and Slovenia, it is already in force. Belgium has had to comply since May 2003. Please note that the MRP requirement does not/not apply to VWP nationals who apply for visas, now or after October 26, 2004.
3. The MRP requirement applies only to VWP travelers applying for visa-free entry at U.S. POEs. The MRP requirement does not apply to other programs or groups that are visa-waived or visa-exempt (for example, Canadian citizens, the Guam Visa Waiver Program, certain Caribbean Islanders, etc.) -- either when applying for visas or at POEs.
4. Similarly, the October 26, 2004 requirement of a biometric passport will apply only/only to VWP nationals applying for visa-free entry at U.S. POEs whose passports were issued on or after that date. It does not apply to other visa-waived or visa-exempt categories, nor to NIV applicants.
5. The definition of passport under Section 101(a)(30) of the INA remains "Any travel document issued by competent authority showing the bearer''s origin, identity, and nationality if any, which is valid for the admission of the bearer into a foreign country." Neither machine-readability nor biometrics are a part of this definition. There are currently no plans to require NIV applicants to submit machine-readable passports or passports containing biometrics in order to obtain a visa.