Twenty-five nations will maintain eligibility
to participate in the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), allowing
their citizens to enter the United States without applying
for a visa, the Department of Homeland Security announced
Homeland Security is required by law to
conduct a review of the participating nations and if they
are meeting the requirements set by the Congress for participation.
Italy and Portugal are also VWP nations,
according to a November 8 statement, but their continued
status will be announced later because their review is conducted
on a different schedule.
To participate in the program, VWP countries
must grant the same privileges of visa-free travel to U.S.
citizens and maintain a low number of immigration violations
and high passport security standards.
The departments of State and Homeland Security
work with VWP countries on a ongoing basis to improve information-sharing
and enhance security for all travel documents to provide
greater safety for the entire traveling public.
For additional information, see Visa
Waiver Program (VWP).
The full text of the Homeland Security statement
Department of Homeland Security Provides
Visa Waiver Program Report to Congress
For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
November 8, 2005
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS)
today announced the completion of a status report on countries
participating in the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) as required
by the Enhanced Border Security and Visa Entry Reform Act
of 2002. As a result of this review, 25 of the 27 participating
countries will maintain their current enrollment status
in the Visa Waiver Program. Comprehensive reviews of Italy
and Portugal are on a different time schedule and the results
of those reviews will be released at a later time.
In order to participate in the VWP, countries
must satisfy a number of congressional requirements, including
visa-free privileges for visiting U.S. citizens, a low number
of immigration violations and high passport security standards
to protect against the fraudulent use of travel documents.
As required by Congress, DHS must carry out reviews of participating
countries every two years to determine the effect that each
country’s continued participation in the Visa Waiver
Program has on U.S. security, immigration and general law
This most recent assessment of VWP country
participation was conducted by an interagency working group
led by the Department of Homeland Security in coordination
with the Departments of Justice and State. Representatives
from these Departments met regularly to review information
obtained from relevant federal agencies, U.S. Missions,
VWP foreign governments, and site visits.
Information collected during the review
and included in the report covers sensitive information
relating to terrorism, criminal activities, illegal immigration
and alien smuggling, and therefore is classified in accordance
with appropriate executive orders. The country reviews are
only one requirement for participation in the VWP. Recently
announced requirements for VWP countries regarding digital
photos passports and e-passports are separate from this
country review process.
The Departments of Homeland Security and
State continue to work with all VWP countries to improve
information sharing and enhance security for all travel
documents. As a result of this review, DHS and State have
already begun discussions with foreign governments about
certain areas where improvements can be made.
The 27 countries participating in the VWP
are: Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, Denmark,
Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan,
Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Monaco, the Netherlands, New
Zealand, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, Slovenia,
Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.