US imposes 72 hour pre-reg for Visa waiver travellers
Europeans and other potential enemies of the US are to be forced to deposit their personal details on the Department of Homeland Security’s computer system 72 hours before they get anywhere near the place.
The new rules will apply to citizens of the UK, and other countries whose citizens can travel to the US under the “visa waiver program”, from January next year. The prime motivation for the scheme is increased concern in Washington that European grown terrorists can exploit the visa waiver program to get into the US and wreak havoc.
The plan comes a year after Europe expressed concern that US proposals to impose a 48 hour preregistration period for visa free travel would have played havoc with business people making last minute commercial trips to the US. The US has clearly taken these considerations on board, and decided to up the pre-reg period to 72 hours.
According to reports, registrations made under the scheme will be valid for two years, allowing multiple entries to the US. Non PC-owning travellers will be able to register through travel agents.
Nevertheless, there are concerns that the scheme will do little to speed entry into the US. According to the FT, Susan Ginsburg of the Migration Policy Institute, expressed concern that no pilots had been conducted and that the move would increase pressure on the creaking US immigration system.
Of more concern to privacy minded Europeans there’s also no clue as to what will happen to non-US citizen’s data once it finds its way into the State Department and Department of Homeland Security Systems.
Clearly, details will be checked against watch lists. However, Europeans will no doubt be concerned that their information will be dispatched to a big data warehouse where it will be mined into oblivion. Previously, the consensus was that the little paper entry cards you filled out on arrival in the US were sent to a physical warehouse and consigned to oblivion.
Apart from unease over the amount of data US authorities will be collecting about other countries’ citizens – the vast bulk of whom will have committed no crime other than wanting to go to Disneyland – there will also be concerns that the immigration database will be a potential goldmine for ID thieves.
The perceived invasiveness of the US scheme will likely dissuade some European travelers from actually crossing the Atlantic. In which case they can stay at home and grumble about the EU’s own efforts to tighten up entry procedures.
The US scheme - electronic travel authorization scheme - has been dubbed ESTA for short. Why? Because someone in Washington realized that ETA is a terrorist group. There’s no clue as to what the S stands for. Slow perhaps? Or simply "sod off". ®
Can't see what all the fuss is, myself.
As only one person so far has pointed out, up 'til now you can get on the plane before the list goes Stateside and they decide they don't want you. Now at least the Men In Black will tell you before you get on board that you're just not gonna get past the men and women in blue...
So it's another form to fill in, except online instead of pen-n-paper. Good on 'em I say, the number of times I've had to ask for a second one cos I put a digit in the wrong freaking box and ruined the first one... :-(
And can someone explain this arguement "Ooh those nasty Americans shouldn't be doing this, so we should do it back"? WTF? Since when has two wrongs made something like this right?
Unfortunately the world we live in requires such 'stupid and pointless' tasks be carried out and people are, after all, only human (and as has been pointed out, "brainy" people rarely apply for this sort of job) so mistakes are bound to happen.
How about some of you try sitting in a little box all day, getting hassle from strangers after someone else has stuffed 'em in a metal tube for the last eight hours or so, and see how you respond after a few hours. And the C&I staff get this all the time.
Personally I'm amazed they're not all as misreable and uptight as the ones the moaners above have met - okay, it's only a couple of them who have been really chatty and friendly (especially since 9/11) but don't forget you see them for a couple of minutes a trip - they see you, and millions like you, every working day.
Be nice to them, they *are* trying to keep *you* safe.
reminds me - the FFFB's
Wonderful cartoon images spring back to my fevered mind of a hapless trio trying to get through customs (mexico to US I think the parody goes) and they pass the passport control, and they pass this and that and the other and meet up with "The Attitude Inspector". And one remarks in a gruff and rude term his disapproval of such a test and of course is immediately barred from entering.
Crossed USA of my list....
a few years ago because of this bullshit. It's getting as bad here. What worries me is that all the people you deal with at border controls etc are not that intelligent and really are probably just 'jobsworths' who love the power.
Like the girl at Coventry airport a couple of years ago, one minute she serves me coffee next she is checking passports ..."stand on that line and look streight at me...."