UNCLAS STATE 326259
FOR CONSULAR SECTION CHIEFS AND NIV CHIEFS
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: CVIS, CMGT, EAIR, LU
SUBJECT: SECRETARY GRANTS WAIVER OF OCTOBER 1, 2003
MACHINE-READABLE PASSPORT REQUIREMENT FOR VISA WAIVER
TRAVELERS OF LUXEMBOURG
Ref: A) State 276310 B) State 256170 (notal)
1. On November 11, 2003, the Secretary of State exercised his authority under Section 417 of the USA PATRIOT Act and granted a waiver to Luxembourg of the October 1, 2003 machine-readable passport (MRP) requirement for travelers entering the U.S. visa- free under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). Luxembourg now joins 21 other VWP countries that received a waiver on Sept. 24, 2003, including Australia, Austria, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Monaco, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. The waivers are valid until October 26, 2004.
2. Ref B was an action cable sent September 5, 2003 to posts in VWP capitals with text for a Diplomatic Note for VWP host governments containing instructions for requesting a waiver. Luxembourg and the 21 countries listed above provided certain assurances as indicated in the waiver authority of Section 417, namely that they are making progress in providing MRPs to their citizens and that they can ensure the security of their travel documents. They also stated that they understand the waiver will not be extended beyond October 26, 2004. In its response to Ref B, however, Luxembourg stopped short of requesting a waiver because virtually all Luxembourg passports are machine- readable.
3. Luxembourg diplomatic passports are not machine-readable, and word of the need to obtain a visa did not reach some non- official holders of diplomatic passports (for example, members of the royal family). After several incidents of European airlines denying boarding and passengers arriving at U.S. POEs without visas, Luxembourg officially requested a waiver on October 30, 2003. Luxembourg is also redoubling its efforts to spread the word to all holders of non-machine-readable passports of the need to obtain a visa.
4. As indicated by Ref A, four remaining VWP countries declined to request a waiver of the October 1 MRP requirement: Andorra, Brunei, Liechtenstein and Slovenia. Belgium, whose nationals had to begin presenting MRPs for visa-free entry to the U.S. on May 15, was not eligible for a waiver.
5. Between now and October 26, 2004, VWP travelers from Luxembourg entering the U.S. with non-machine-readable passports will be given a fact sheet explaining the need to obtain an MRP, and will have "MRP advised" written next to the admission stamp.