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Paris and San Bernardino Terror Invites Tighter Restrictions on Visa Free Travel to the U.S.

Security checkpoint 20629777_LargeOn Tuesday, December 8, 2015, The House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a bill imposing new restrictions on the current Visa Waiver Program (VWP), which permits citizens of 38 participating countries to travel to the United States without a visa for stays of up to 90 days if they meet all requirements, including a background check through the Electronic System for Travel Authorization.  Since its inception, over twenty million visitors have traveled to the United States without first having to apply for a visa and undergo an interview at a U.S. consulate overseas.  The VWP came under scrutiny in the wake of the Paris terrorist attacks on October 13th when it became apparent that several of the perpetrators of those attacks were citizens of VWP countries (France and Belgium) and might have been able to pass undetected through U.S. border control without having first applied for a visa.  President Obama heightened the alarm over visa free travel when, in his address to the nation on December 6, 2015, he  indicated – erroneously –that Tashfeen Malik, the female terrorist in San Bernardino, had entered the U.S. on the VWP.   In his address President Obama said he had “ordered the departments of State and Homeland Security to review the visa waiver program under which the female terrorist in San Bernardino originally came to this country.” In fact, Malik had entered on a K-1 visa as the fiancée of a U.S. citizen, further exposing a weakness in the system by which our country screens would be immigrants for threats to our national security.  Continue Reading