Extracted from another forummer SWA/Cuddlefish
Mon, Jun 09, 2008
WASHINGTON, US - PRESIDENT George W. Bush argued on Sunday that new US regulations for nationals of US visa-waiver countries who want to visit the United States should make trips easier, and not more cumbersome.
'As to whether we have made it harder for visa-waiver countries (nationals) to come to the United States, actually not. We've made it easier,' Mr Bush said in an interview with POP TV of Slovenia, released by the White House on Sunday.
The new rules, to take effect in January, will require three days' advance registration and aim to make it more difficult for potential terrorists to enter the United States from various countries, including France, Germany, Switzerland, Britain, Belgium, Portugal, Spain, Singapore, New Zealand, Japan and Australia.
The government will ask for the same information that travellers currently fill out on the I-94 card which is handed out on the plane and turned in to customs on arrival in the United States.
That includes such information as passport number, country of residence, disclosure of communicable diseases or involvement in terror activities. Now, however, it will be requested in advance of travel.
'In other words,' Mr Bush said, 'you file your paperwork online before you come to the United States, which should actually facilitate travel, we hope.'
'But look, I am concerned that people say, well, America no longer wants us to come, when it's the exact opposite of my personal point of view and the view of my government,' he allowed.
The visa waiver programme was created in 1986 'with the objective of eliminating unnecessary barriers to travel, stimulating the tourism industry,' and allowing the government to 'focus consular resources in other areas,' according to the State Department website.
Critics of the new rule have raised concerns about the possibility of reduced tourism and difficulties with last-minute business travel. -- AFP
Likewise before entering Spain. HB