On Thursday, the Department of Homeland Security announced stricter rules for international travelers entering the United States on the Visa Waiver Program (VWP).

These travelers will be required to use e-passports containing a biometric chip, and passports will be screened against a list of lost and stolen passports worldwide. Most countries have begun issuing biometric passports; however, some older passports may not comply with the new rules. U.S. federal air marshals will also begin appearing more frequently on international flights originating from VWP countries.

Citing the growing threat of foreign terrorists, DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson said that the measures would enhance the security of the Visa Waiver Program without hindering trade and travel. The program currently includes 38 countries, and allows eligible business travelers and tourists to enter the U.S. without a visa for up to 90 days. Travelers undergo a mandatory electronic screening process before being registered in the program.

BAL Analysis: Travelers using the Visa Waiver Program should make sure that their passports conform to the new requirements before making travel arrangements to the U.S.

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