R 230058Z SEP 04
FM SECSTATE WASHDC
TO ALL DIPLOMATIC AND CONSULAR POSTS
SPECIAL EMBASSY PROGRAM
UNCLAS STATE 205166
SENSITIVE; TO CONSULAR SECTIONS AND PAOS
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: CVIS, CMGT, KPAO
SUBJECT: Visa Waiver Program (VWP): Imminent Dates and
Important Facts for ALL Posts
Ref: a. State 091407 b. State 195507
1. This is an action message for all posts, including those not in the Visa Waiver Program. This cable has been cleared by SEP.
2. Summary: As we draw near to two crucial VWP deadlines, we would like to reiterate these important dates and ask posts to again take an aggressive approach to bringing these to the attention of all Visa Waiver travelers to the U.S, including those residing in non-Visa waiver countries. While Visa Waiver Program and EU Mission countries will be most affected by these implementation dates, we ask that all posts take appropriate action to disseminate these critical dates and information as broadly as possible.
3. Two key dates are fast-approaching:
- September 30: As of this date, VWP travelers arriving at air and sea ports of entry will be enrolled in US- VISIT.
- October 26: As of this date, VWP travelers must present a valid machine-readable passport (MRP) or U.S. visa for admission to the U.S.
4. Government officials from several VWP countries, as well as interlocutors from travel, business and tourist organizations have expressed concern that the changes and their resultant requirements have not been adequately communicated. Therefore, we ask that posts redouble their efforts at disseminating this information as broadly and comprehensively as possible. End Summary.
SEPTEMBER 30 - US-VISIT BEGINS FOR VWP TRAVELERS
5. By September 30, US-VISIT procedures will be expanded to include visitors traveling to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program arriving at airports and seaports of entry. The following 27 countries are in the visa waiver program:
Andorra, Austria, Australia, Belgium, Brunei, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. (for citizens with the unrestricted right of permanent abode in England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man).
6. US-VISIT entry procedures are currently in place at 115 airports and 14 seaports. By December 31, 2004, US- Visit entry procedures will be implemented at secondary screening at the 50 busiest land ports of entry and to the remaining 115 land ports entry by December 31, 2005.
7. Compliance with the exit procedure is mandatory for travelers departing from a port at which the exit pilot is in effect. Details of these procedures are outline in Ref B.
OCTOBER 26 - MRP IN EFFECT FOR VWP TRAVELERS
8. October 26 will mark the deadline for VWP visitors to enter the US visa-free without a Machine- Readable Passport (MRP). It is critical that VWP travelers are made aware of this deadline so that they can provide the proper documentation at the port of entry when applying for admission. Some media reporting has suggested that the new discretion for Customs and Border Protection officers to grant one-time parole to some VWP travelers could apply to the October 26 deadline as well. However, travelers should not regard this as an alternative to properly documented travel to the United States or assume that this same discretion will apply to the October 26 deadline.
9. Families seeking to enter the US under the VWP will need to obtain an individual passport for each traveler, including infants. Machine-readable passports typically have biodata for only one traveler. Based on this, families may be denied visa-free entry into the U.S. if the biodata for only one traveler is machine-readable.
10. Posts are asked to redouble their outreach efforts in these final weeks leading to these two crucial VWP deadlines. These activities could include meetings with other consular officials (host government or those also posted to your countries), press releases, interviews by Mission officials with members of the media, highlighting post website info and ensuring that other sites link to our info, or outreach to trade organizations like chambers of commerce, travel agencies, airlines, airports or immigration officials.
11. We appreciate all posts do in the lead up to these dates to spread the word as broadly as possible and fully prepare all VWP travelers.