Friday

22nd Mar 2019

US to screen foreign air passengers

  • The new system will add a fresh burden to passengers keen to visit the US (Photo: Wikipedia)

Washington is set to electronically collect data on all European visitors who currently enjoy visa-free travel to the United States. An online registration system, first kicking-in on a voluntary basis, will ask for a number of personal data, including on health.

The Electronic System of Travel Authorisation (ESTA) - presented by US Department of Homeland Security representative Jackie Bednarz on Monday (28 July) - is designed to track high-risk passengers and will be officially launched on 1 August.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

The procedure will become mandatory only on 12 January 2009, with all passengers from visa vaiwer programme countries - including children - required to receive an authorisation to travel before they board a US-bound airplane or vessel.

On top of 15 EU states - Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the UK - the obligation will also apply to Andorra, Australia, Brunei, Iceland, Japan, Liechtenstein, Monaco, New Zealand, Norway, San Marino, Singapore and Switzerland.

The system will ask for identical data as is currently required when filling out the I-94 immigration form on board, including biographical and passport information, data on mental and physical health, drug abuse as well as crime history.

The application - submitted no later than 72 hours ahead of the departure - could be filled in by a relative or travel agent on behalf of a passenger. The subsequent authorisation for travel will be valid for multiple entries over a two-year period.

"The ESTA is not a visa," Ms Bednarz was cited as saying by AFP, although admitting that the US is aware of additional efforts on the side of passengers to complete the form.

She also indicated that the US may eventually charge for ESTA registration, saying "In the future, there may be a fee." Currently a US visa application costs $131 or €83.

MEPs disagree with US on visas and tourist tax

The US will continue to treat EU members on a bilateral basis in its visa regime, but will review its passenger data policy towards Europeans, interior minister Janet Napolitano told MEPs on Friday. She also defended a controversial tourist tax as the only way to fund tourism promotion in the country.

Slovakia puts squeeze on free press ahead of election

Smer, Slovakia's ruling party, wants the country's media to give politicians a right-of-reply, or face stiff fines. Advocates of a free press are alarmed, and it poses a problem for the European Commission, whose vice-president is a Smer presidential candidate.

Orban rejects Weber's plea to stop anti-EU posters

Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban has pledged to put up new anti-migrant posters - despite hopes in his centre-right EU family that he might "apologise and put an end" to the campaign.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  3. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  4. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  6. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  7. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  9. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  12. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us